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Living Large

From “Law and Order’s” Detective Mike Logan to “Sex and the City’s” Mr. Big, Chris Noth keeps stretching the boundaries of his acting career.
Marshall Fine
From the Print Edition:
Chris Noth, May/June 2010

(continued from page 5)

Which didn't stop Noth from returning to the "L&O" orbit, reprising the Mike Logan character for three seasons (2005-2008) on "Law & Order: Criminal Intent," a decision he now says he regrets.

"I never really believed I fit in that show," he says. "I did it because the deal was so good and because I didn't have to do every episode. Vince (D'Onofrio, who also played one of the lead detectives) needed a break."

Not that he has no kind words for that show: "The two years I did it with (writer-producer) Warren Leight running it, we did some good shows. We had a good crew and I liked the people. But I don't want to do something that's just comfort food. Those procedurals lull you into a certain state because they all look the same. And they're death to the creative process for an actor. You try to bring everything to it and a lot of the nuances are just washed right out to get to the story."

Which is the difference, Noth says, between the "L&O" universe and "The Good Wife," his newest series. The show, which debuted in the fall of 2009, has become one of CBS's hits of the 2009-2010 season. It stars Julianna Margulies as an attorney who put her career on hold when her husband (Noth) went into politics as a state's attorney-and who has now returned to work at a law firm because he has been imprisoned on corruption charges.

"It's a really smart show and I think we're telling a good story," Noth says. "I like what they're writing, as well as the dynamics between her character and mine, the political world and what's happening in both careers.

"Plus I like the fact that it's her show. At this point, I have no desire to have my own hour-long series. When you do an hour series, you do that and not much else and it's one of the hardest jobs there is. The hours are unrelenting. But I want to keep doing stage work-I try to do a play a year-and they made it possible for me to do that and still contribute to this show."

Margulies, who met Noth when she did an episode of "Law & Order" in 1993 (before she was on "E.R."), says, "When the producers first cast me and asked who should play my husband, I said it had to be a Bill Clintonesque type, someone women are drawn to. When they suggested Chris, I thought it was a genius idea. He has such a presence; he stands at attention and he just exudes that power. He's got a gravitas."

Robert King, one of the cocreators of "The Good Wife" with wife Michelle, says, "We wanted Chris for a certain stature. He's got great versatility-and there's a slight bad-boyness to his grin that translates to politics. And yet he's also got the vulnerability we wanted him to have. He was our only choice-the top of our list."

Adds Michelle King, "He's got a charisma that plays so well and has been so wonderful in other shows. It was tricky because he had to be someone so wonderful that you understood how Julianna's character would stay with him, even after what he did."

Shot in New York, "The Good Wife" gives Noth the time he seeks to spend with his son, Orion ("No nicknames-no ‘O' or ‘Ryan'-I'm going to make sure he corrects people," Noth avers). His son was named after the constellation, which Noth remembers from the early winter skies when he was in college.

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