New ‘Good Fight’ Star Charmaine Bingwa Says Carmen’s ‘Not Afraid to Bend the Rules’
True, Delroy Lindo and Cush Jumbo both departed from The Good Fight and will pursue other TV projects, including the latter’s Amazon series The Beast Must Die. But the Paramount+ legal dramedy didn’t rest and luckily snared two more top stars to play new characters for its fifth season. Mandy Patinkin joined the cast as Judge Hal Wackner, who’s not a real jurist, but holds entertaining “trials” akin to TV’s longstanding People’s Court in a space behind a copy shop. The other newbie: a first-year associate lawyer named Carmen Moyo, played by award-winning Australian stage and film actress Charmaine Bingwa.
In the season’s second episode we meet Carmen, whose stoic demeanor stood out in the hubbub surrounding the arrival of Reddick Lockhart’s new gaggle of eager legal beagles. “Carmen definitely has a mysterious and enigmatic air to her,” says Bingwa, who shares with TV Insider more about her new role.
Who is Carmen Moyo? For a lawyer barely out of law school, she is very self-composed!
Charmaine Bingwa: She plays her cards pretty close to her chest, and she’s not afraid to bend the rules to get the best outcome for her clients. She is doing her absolute best to provide her clients with the best legal defense that she can, even if it blurs the line. Carmen has alluded to having a history of not going through Ivy League channels to get to law school or to get her associate position at Reddick Lockhart & Associates. She has a great empathy for these clients that comes from an understanding of their background
Did she have a personal connection to someone who didn’t get good representation?
I think multiple people in her life were not able to access the kind of legal representation that would allow them to have their rights protected. Her mission is to make that accessible for all people in the legal system.
Carmen seems preternaturally calm and assured whether she’s talking to a murderous client or name partner Liz Reddick (Audra McDonald) who tells Carmen that she doesn’t seem to care if she’s liked by others.
Liz said, “I don’t think you give a s**t about whether people like you.” Carmen feels like everyone else around her is playing checkers and she’s playing chess. The season will tell whether she has too much faith in her abilities. I think in real life, when you meet people who are authentic and grounded and embrace their talents, that’s attractive to people whether they’re doing morally questionable things or not.
Liz tells Carmen that she will be her mentor. It seems she’s doing that to keep an eye on her, after she saw in court that Carmen got an underling of her drug kingpin client Oscar Rivi (Tony Plana) to admit to a violent crime that her client committed by basically bribing him to lie. What is her ongoing relationship with Liz?
Some part of Liz sees herself in Carmen, maybe when she was younger and more tenacious. She relates to Carmen’s streetfighter attitude and admires her attitude, quite frankly.
What’s Carmen’s goal at the firm?
Her goal first and foremost is to build the best legal defense for her clients. But I think she’s also ambitious and will want to run the firm or start her own within a few years.
Everyone warns Carmen that Rivi is dangerous. Will she make some bad choices?
She has an enormous heart. I think she cares very deeply for her clients, and will increasingly care for Rivi. She will take a chance for people that she cares about, absolutely.
Will she have allies at the firm?
It’s a bit hard to know where you stand with her, but most people give her the benefit of the doubt. There’s definitely a kinship with Marissa (Sarah Steele). [Marissa Gold is the firm’s long-term investigator turned law student, who’s yet to pass the bar.]
Give us a hint of what we’ll learn about Carmen in today’s episode?
I don’t want to spoil it, but we step directly into her personal world and she definitely turns things on their head. We’ll get to see how Carmen operates in her own environment. You’ll see from the top of the episode that’s she’s an unusual character!
Is this your first American project?
My first American television project; I have done some American films.
I’m in Black Box, a psychological horror film on Amazon and Trees of Peace, the movie about actual survivors of the Rwandan genocide, who hide together in a basement for 81 days.
How did you come to join The Good Fight, a brilliant streaming show?
[Series co-creators Michelle and Robert King] are such solid writers and creators, and the cast are some of the best actors we have who are legendary on both stage and screen. That’s very appealing to me. [Among those guest stars this season: Jane Curtin and Bebe Neuwirth.]
What’s been the most fun for you on your first American TV show?
That it’s both comedy and drama. I’ve played purely dramatic roles before and I get to flex my comedic chops. And it’s exciting to play such an interesting role and to find out new things about her.
You’ve been described as an actor, a writer, a director, producer, musician and an LGBTQ+ activist. Is that all true?
It’s all true, yeah. I’m a very busy girl. After a period of acting intensely for a while, I will get the craving to write something. After writing something, I might feel like helping to create a [show.] And being an LGBT activist is just part of who I am every day.
Should we assume that Carmen is a member of that community?
It’s still to be revealed. It could go either way. But I think no matter whether she’s into men or women, a romantic life takes a backseat to her ambition.
Will we see a warmer, more open side to Carmen, who so far has an impressive poker face?
We’ll get to know her a little bit better and understand what motivates her and how deeply invested in her clients she is.
The Kings are notorious for their twists. Can we expect twists for your character?
There will be. She’ll unravel throughout the season, but she’ll continue to keep a few cards close to her chest as well!
The Good Fight, Thursdays, Paramount+