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‘The Good Fight': Alan Cumming on the ‘Even Darker’ Fate That Was Planned for Eli Gold

A producer cried when they read the script, so it was rewritten, the actor tells TheWrap

Democratic campaign manager Eli Gold (Alan Cumming) made his debut on “The Good Fight” on Paramount+ over the last two episodes of Season 6, visiting Chicago to deal with tricky legal troubles brought about by a right-wing prosecutor attempting to call him out for interference in the 2020 election. While he was in town, he attended a fundraiser for the Dems, and was nearly killed when a man burst out of a bathroom stall at the event, shouting an anti-Jewish epithet and shooting Frank Landau, who the man had mistaken for Gold. But that wasn’t the original version of the story from showrunners Robert and Michelle King, according to Cumming. 

“The original plan was even darker. … Eli was going to die,” Cumming said, noting he signed on to do two episodes (featuring his character, who viewers first got to know on CBS’ “The Good Wife”) with Eli dying in the second. 

“They’re such great writers, I was really fascinated to see how they would kill him,” Cumming added, referring to creators and executive producers Robert and Michelle King.

Cumming shot his first episode of the show, went away to do another job, and when he returned, he learned the original plan had been tossed out.

“They called me and said, ‘Oh, Alan, we can’t kill you,’” he explained. The story Cumming heard was that a producer cried when they read the script that killed off his character, so it ended up being rewritten. 

In the latest “Good Fight” episode, available to watch now on the streamer, it’s Landau who died, brutally gunned down in front of Eli, who was the target. The horrific incident deeply impacted Eli, forcing him to reevaluate his life.

“I think this was such a great episode,” Cumming said. “It’s so well written and also so good to see Eli having this huge sort of dent to his whole outlook on life, and this major awful thing happened to him. We’ve never really seen anything like that happen. … And it’s great to sort of act a character that you know so well suddenly being in a situation that they’re absolutely at sea with.”

It was something his daughter, newly minted lawyer Marissa Gold (Sarah Steele) did on the stand (she evaded questions, protected her dad and charmed the judge) that seemed to bring Eli back from a path of repentance and sacrifice that he seemed to be leaning toward following the incident. And just before that — before he left town, he sat down for a heart-to-heart with Diane Lockhart (Christine Baranksi) who told him to, “Finish your drink, stand up, pull yourself together, and go out there and kick some ass. This country is worth fighting for, it always was. And our enemies want to stop voting from happening. That’s not just galling, that is the end of America, and we can’t let that happen.” Eli then says goodbye to his daughter, gets in a car and heads off to Washington, D.C. to do just that, his last appearance on the show, which is coming to a close with the conclusion of the current season.

“I think in an interesting way as well is this thing happening to [Eli Gold] is kind of maybe going to take him off the course of just being this shark,” Cumming said. “What I think the purpose of that happening to him was to sort of say to people – to jolt people into saying, ‘Let’s try and find another way before it’s too late. Let’s find a way to stop being so partisan – and to listen to each other even just a little bit.’”