You will be redirected back to your article in seconds
Back to IndieWire

Interview: Mike Colter Tells S&A About Playing Villains and Heroes in ‘The Good Wife’ and ‘Halo: Nightfall’

Interview: Mike Colter Tells S&A About Playing Villains and Heroes in 'The Good Wife' and 'Halo: Nightfall'

Actor Mike Colter recently spoke with Shadow
And Act about returning to season six of CBS’ acclaimed series “The Good
Wife” as the morally conflicting Lemond Bishop, as well as his role as the
new face of “Halo: Nightfall” on XBox One.

JT: Your character on “The Good Wife,” Lemond Bishop, is
a drug lord and pretty ruthless at times. Did you have any hesitations about
the role early on?

MC: I saw that the breakdown said “drug
lord” and knew what he was involved in, but for me it’s not so much what
he does, it’s also the how. I think Lemond
Bishop is somebody who could have been a legitimate businessman and he applied
a great business model to the drug profession. He could literally do something
else, but he’s chosen to do this.

And I like the fact that he doesn’t have a
lot of regret about it and you don’t see him pondering what life could be
without it. Because that’s what you always see, the moral compass of the drug
dealer – he’s guilty, he feels bad. But in real life, people end up doing things
because it’s convenient and it works for them. You don’t get up every day
regretting what you’re doing. So I like to think he’s a little different in
that way, and I enjoy playing him because he’s not exactly a typical drug lord
that does stuff that you think, “Oh my God, I wouldn’t want to hang out
with this guy.” I think Lemond Bishop is a guy people want to hang around.
You might fear him, but he’s kind of a cool guy.

JT: He is charming and has business savvy, and a lot of people
compare him to Stringer Bell from “The Wire” for that reason. Have
you heard about those comparisons at all?

MC: I saw something online a while ago, and
I’m sure I’m in the minority, but I didn’t watch “The Wire.” I’ve
worked with a lot of the actors from the show over the years but I just never
got around to it. So I can’t really draw a reference from it unfortunately, but
I take it as a compliment because the show has a great reputation. And Idris
Elba who played the character, people like him a lot. So I take it as a
positive thing.

JT: “The Good Wife” tackles a lot of societal issues,
and even with your character there’s the connection between drugs and politics.
Do you ever take any of those conversations home with you?

MC: Not much actually. I have my own opinions
about it. I think the country is going to change in the next decade. I travel a
lot and I feel like we do put a lot of emphasis on stopping people from doing
whatever they want to do when it comes to drugs, and I get that, but we spend a
lot of money doing so. So sometimes the money that we spend trying to prevent
it seems a little much, considering how much money there is to gain. I’m pretty
relaxed on what people should be able to do as long as they’re not hurting
anybody else.

I think Lemond Bishop wouldn’t want it to be
legalized because obviously if it was, he wouldn’t be making money off of it.
So it’s a contradiction of sorts, the actor versus what Bishop might desire,
because as long as the government is putting time and effort into stopping it,
people like him can make a good living.

JT: What can you share about what happens in season six?

MC: It’s going to take a lot of turns. The
writers are very good about misdirection and changeups, and that’s what’s great
about it. We always think we know what’s going to happen and then they throw a
curveball that you don’t see coming.

Right now there’s an informant missing and we
can assume that maybe Bishop had something to do with that disappearance. And
we can also assume that he’s not going to stop there, because he’s going to
cover his tracks. Cary has been brought up on drug charges and Bishop feels
like it’s directly related to him, so he has to cut ties with Cary. Well how do
you cut ties with Cary? We will see.

Bishop’s the kind of guy that’s very loyal,
but I think he wants to do what’s best for him. He’s black and white, cut and
dry. There is no gray area with him. So we’ll be looking to figure out what’s
going to happen with Cary and with the informant, and can they save Cary from
Bishop’s crosshairs. But expect to be thrown a curveball, and expect to be
surprised and shocked.

JT: Your role has expanded this season. You’ve appeared in some
noted TV and film projects in the past, but it seems like you’re just starting
to gain wider recognition.

MC: As an actor you just want to continue to
work on things that you like. You can be in this business a long time and
consistently working and just be totally artistically unfulfilled. So I think
if you can have a little bit of both, it’s a good thing. I’ve always wanted to
be on a show that’s well respected and had critical acclaim and that people
like to watch, and at the same time find something that for me as an actor is
interesting and challenging.

So the fact that this character is starting
to be fleshed out, it’s great because honestly when I started the show it was
supposed to be one-and-done. So it kind of has snowballed and the character has
gotten more time. It’s great because it’s a testament to the writing. Sometimes
it’s a lucky occurrence – the writing meets the right actor and you just want
to see more.

JT: You also star in the series “Halo: Nightfall.” What
can you share about that project?

MC: It’s a sci-fi experience that’s
completely different from what I’ve done before. It’s a hero character that
basically has mankind’s existence resting on his shoulders. There are some
diehard “Halo” fans out there who love this kind of stuff, and I’m
introduced to something that I’ve never been a part of before.

Jameson Locke, who I’m playing, is a real
leader of men and one that has a firm moral compass. He’s completely different from
Lemond Bishop. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, and I think that it’s
going to open more doors. As long as you can throw people a curveball, that’s
what you’re looking for. Because the minute they can define you, the minute
they think they know exactly who you are, is when it starts to wear thin. So I
feel like this is a good turn and something that people will like.

JT: This is not only a different kind of character, but also a
much different world visually. What was it like to film?

MC: It was a grueling shoot. We went out to
Belfast and were out there for almost two months. It was a beautiful background
and scenery but there was really inclement weather and I was like, “Oh my
God, what have I gotten myself into?” But overall it was a great
experience. A lot of special effects are involved so it was a lot of acting in
front of green screens with things that are not really there. So it does challenge
you, but that’s what acting is about. The audience is going to see something
that should be quite a unique and fulfilling experience. It’s a new character
that’s been brought into this world so I’m glad to originate a new person in
the “Halo” universe. The whole experience was grueling, but after
months away from it I’m glad I did it.

JT: Did you develop any tricks or tactics for suspending your
disbelief and staying in character during all the green screen scenes?

MC: It’s the same tricks that you use in
auditions. People forget, most of the times we audition with people who aren’t
necessarily actors. So it doesn’t matter who or what’s in front of you, you
still have to have the same realism and invested emotions. It comes in handy to
be able to do it with a great partner like a Julianna [Margulies], but sometimes
you can have a tennis ball. So you work on your acting and hope to God you
don’t have to work with a tennis ball, but sometimes you do.

JT: Any other projects that you have coming up that we should know
about?

MC: I did an indie film that’s in post-production,
“America Is Still The Place.” It’s about a trucker who cleans up an
oil spill in 1971. It’s a period piece set in San Francisco about a blue-collar
guy, not well educated, family man who really wants to make ends meet for his
family. So it’s a unique kind of American tale that I think will resonate with
a lot of audiences. It’s a small story, but a really powerful one. We’re hoping
to premiere that in 2015.

Colter can be seen in the sixth season of “The Good
Wife,” Sunday nights on CBS.

“Halo: Nightfall” will be available on Xbox One in
November. 

This Article is related to: Features and tagged , ,