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

Mike Colter

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.

The Good WifeJT: 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. 

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