Season 5 of The Good Wife is the show's best yet. But might it also be the year Josh Charles becomes the breakout star he really deserves to be?
Charles has always been a phenomenally talented actor. 15 years ago, he was one of the best things about Aaron Sorkin's Sports Night. As cable sports anchor Dan Rydell, he demonstrated a tremendous awareness of everything around him, never once underplaying or overplaying a moment. He could turn a scene on a dime, able to find the humor in one line and the hurt in the next, and the transition was seamless.
Most remarkably, we saw the astounding ability he has to cut to the soul of a character. In every performance, he's created at least one moment that's so honest that you feel like you're almost too close to a real person. There was the second episode of Sports Night, where we cried as Dan delivered an on-air apology to his dead brother. Then came his role in the first season of In Treatment, so emotionally raw that it almost hurt to watch.
Let's not overlook his co-starring part in Showtime's 2002 film Our America, where even though he's a supporting player in the story, we still felt like we knew exactly what he was going through. He's consistently been able to reach a level that most actors will find maybe a handful of times, if they're lucky.
So we've always wondered why he isn't a household name. We watched his Sports Night co-stars go on to big projects - Felicity Huffman in Desperate Housewives, for example, or Joshua Malina in The West Wing - and we asked ourselves, why hasn't Josh Charles gotten that kind of attention? Why hasn't he earned the acclaim he deserves?
Maybe this is going to be that time. Playing Will Gardner on The Good Wife, he's spent the last four seasons once again on a TV series with a remarkable ensemble cast and great writing to support them. He's been consistently excellent the entire time, leading to an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series two years ago. It's not that people haven't noticed how good he is. It's that he deserves to win that Emmy, that he ought to be in the elite class of actors. And season five should finally make that happen, because Charles has never been better than he is right now.