You can't really replace Josh Charles, considering that he's one of the best actors of all-time. But as The Good Wife moves on from Will Gardner, if we've indeed already met his replacement, he's a pretty good catch, too. Matthew Goode is a damn fine actor in his own right, and if you don't already know him, well, that's what we're here for.
Prior to his playing top state's attorney Finn Polmar in Sunday's pivotal episode, you probably recognized Goode as Mandy Moore's love interest in the rom-com Chasing Liberty a decade ago. Or a little closer to the present tense, he was Amy Adams' love interest in Leap Year. But dig a little deeper, and you'll find one of England's more underappreciated actors.
Goode gave a tremendously moving performance as Hector, the newlywed who gets short shrift when his new wife (played by Covert Affairs star Piper Perabo) falls for another woman in the 2006 flick Imagine Me & You. Even with the main plot of the movie stacked against him, you still came to care for him deeply. He followed that up the next year with a completely different role as career criminal Gary Spargo in one of the best films you've never seen, The Lookout. It's Goode's performance, injected with quiet menace that gets under your skin and stays there, that's a major reason why it's such a brilliant film.
He gained attention for gamely taking on the starring role of Charles Ryder - previously played by Jeremy Irons in the acclaimed 1981 TV serial - in the 2008 remake of Brideshead Revisited opposite Ben Wishaw, and found wider exposure as the villainous Adrian Veidt in Zack Snyder's adaptation of the vaunted graphic novel Watchmen. You probably also spotted him opposite Nicole Kidman in the horror flick Stoker.
But to find Goode's best performance, you once again have to depart from the mainstream. In 2011, he starred in an Australian drama film called Burning Man. Playing Tom, who loses his beloved spouse to cancer and then subsequently loses the plot of his life, he basically puts the whole picture on his shoulders - and brings the audience to its knees. Tom is a character constantly in flux; sometimes, he's charming, other times he's maddening, and still other times he's a train wreck you can't look away from. It's a role that requires so many different aspects, all of which Goode plays perfectly. He takes us on a journey with the character, one that we don't always want to be on, but one that we are completely sucked into. It's one of the best single theatrical performances by an actor in the last five years.
It's that role most of all that makes us believe he's more than competent enough to join one of the best shows on television. Goode can hit all the notes that will be needed. He's already held his own opposite Charles, so he'll be able to take on Julianna Margulies and Christine Baranski. He can find a toughness, with even a little bit of swagger, that will equip him for The Good Wife's constant battles both in and out of the courtroom. Yet we've also already seen glimpses at the raw vulnerability Goode is also capable of, the kind that cuts to the core of a viewer's heart. He's able to craft complex characters with even the smallest of opportunities to do so - something that will work very well with the subtle, nuanced writing done by Robert and Michelle King and their brilliant staff.
One could even call it a win-win situation for both the actor and the show. What Goode hasn't always had behind him is good writing, and now he'll be getting some of the best that's out there. While he's been a regular on several British TV productions, this is his first role on American television, and a regular one at that - a chance for him to really show what he can do when he sinks his teeth into a part. As for The Good Wife, it gains an actor who will definitely add a new and exciting element to the series as it redefines itself, and who can acquit himself well no matter what direction that Finn may head in.
Goode will certainly have a long shadow cast over him if he does indeed join The Good Wife as a regular next season; it'd be hard for anyone to follow Charles, a tremendous actor who deserves an Emmy sitting on his mantel for the work he's done in Season 5. Yet if anybody can take on that challenge, Goode's the right man for the job.
Goode continues his role as Finn Polmar in the next episode of The Good Wife, airing Sunday, March 30 at 9 PM ET/PT on CBS.