Hamilton vet Renée Elise Goldsberry kicks off her multi-episode arc as a cunning lawyer on Evil Thursday, which reunites her with Michelle and Robert King, who created both The Good Wife and Evil — and you can watch an exclusive clip of from her episode above.
“They just write a really interesting human being,” Goldsberry tells EW of working with the Kings again. “I can always tell when they’re excited about a character because they layer the character with so many fascinating quirks and idiosyncrasies, and really complex sketches of human beings, which I really love. As an actor, it’s just a joy to step into a character they create. They have a very unique voice and it provides a very special opportunity for an actor.”
For seven seasons, Goldsberry recurred on The Good Wife as Assistant State’s Attorney Geneva Pine. This time around, she’s playing for the defense as Renée Harris, a hard-driving Catholic Church attorney. When Mike Colter’s priest-in-training David Acosta gets sued for inflicting psychological damage on Caroline Hopkins (Karen Pittman), whose exorcism he assisted earlier in the season, Renée steps in to defend him. And she does so voluntarily because she’s the sister of David’s late girlfriend, Julia.
“Her relationship with David Acosta and the history that they have is really helpful in understanding emotionally where she’s at on top of the responsibility she feels to her sister and to the church in terms of the task that’s ahead of her in this particular episode,” says Goldsberry of getting into the character’s head. “We learn in the episode that [David and Renée’s relationship is] deeper than it seems. We learn that perhaps there was some distance that came before the sister passed away.”
She continues: “Hopefully, we see the love that Renée had for her sister. There’s a bond [between David and Renée] because of the pain and the loss. Interestingly enough, the pain of the loss of Renee’s sister has led them both to the church, and I think they’re trying to grapple with that. It’ll be interesting to see what journey that guilt and loss takes both of the characters on. I think they’re quite different, Renée and David, and I’m curious to see where they go, but it’s interesting to find them in this moment together when they’re both struggling with similar pain.”
The fact that Renée joins the show will a fully fleshed-out backstory definitely differentiates her from Geneva Pine, according to Goldsberry. The other major difference is that Renée will end up facing things that Geneva did because Evil, after all, is a show about exorcisms, demons, and other unexplained phenomena.
“I’m glad that Renée finds herself in increasingly strange moments that are really characteristic of this specific King show,” she says. “It’s really fun to navigate those moments because they are very specific to Evil. These are opportunities I didn’t have on The Good Wife. [Laughs] It’s fun, as an actor, to find myself playing a lawyer, but playing a lawyer who finds herself in some strange predicaments that are hard to explain rationally.”
Goldsberry hopes her character has a life on Evil beyond this arc, if only so she can work with Michael Emerson, whose potentially demonic character Leland Townsend might be connected to Julia’s death. Says Goldsberry, “My dream is that the character will continue in such a way that I’ll be able to find out more and hold him in some way accountable if it’s true.”
Evil airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. on CBS.