As the razor-tongued Eli Gold in The Good Wife, Alan Cumming brings a comedic dynamic to an otherwise serious show. Currently on his third Emmy nom for Wife, the role of Eli also garnered him noms for a Critics Choice, Golden Globe and two SAG awards.
In Season 7, Cumming will, he says, be “opening up a can of whoop-ass.” The new season sees Peter Florrick (Chris Noth) entering into a Presidential campaign–will Eli’s head explode from the stress of it all? “Eli’s head explodes in Season 7,” Cumming says, “but not in the way you all may think. The episodes we’ve shot so far are the most fun I’ve had playing him in all seven seasons.”
Cumming also loves when his character “drops his pants and asks people to kiss his ass,” Cumming says. “It doesn’t really get much better than that, though he hasn’t done it for a few seasons–hint hint!”
An accomplished singer, the Tony-winning actor also is author of the memoir Not My Father’s Son, in which he recalls a painful childhood under his father’s rule. Did acting give him an outlet, saving him from his emotional pain? “I certainly don’t think I’ve been saved from emotional pain,” Cumming says, “however, I do think I have access to the knowledge of pain and despair and that’s been useful in my work, for sure. But I would say the best thing my work has brought me in terms of what I lacked in my childhood was a sense of family and of belonging and of feeling safe.”
Fortunately, acting was an obvious strength from a young age. “I realized very early on at school that acting was the first thing I was any good at so I stuck with it,” Cumming says. “I am good at some other things but they’re not so fun. I did some plays at school and then went to drama school in Glasgow and trained for three years. I’ve worked constantly since. I know. This must sound revolting to anyone who is reading this at an audition right now.”
However, there wasn’t much access to TV in the actor’s youth. “When I was growing up in rural Scotland we only had three channels,” he says. “My biggest inspiration about becoming an actor was when a theater and education group from the local theatre in Dundee came to my school and put on a play. Not only did I know I wanted to do what they did, I also realized I was learning more about the historical topic that the play was about than I had done in history class. That’s the first time I realized the power of art.”
Despite his acting, singing and writing abilities, there is yet another string to Cumming’s bow.
“Last night I DJ-ed at a club in New York. It was my first proper professional DJ gig and it went down a storm. I think I might do that for a bit.”
To see Cumming in a scene from The Good Wife, click play below: