"I was worn out," Perry says of the experience. "I learned a valuable lesson doing 'Mr. Sunshine,' which is that I didn't want to be in charge because it's too much. Being in charge and acting in every scene was just too difficult. It's like eating dinner in a moving golf cart every night. It could never be a stagnant golf cart, it had to be moving somewhere at all times."
A breather would come from an unlikely source: a Halloween party.
Perry bumped into Julianna Margulies, an old friend and former network peer, at a soiree and made it known he was a fan of the CBS drama "The Good Wife."
"She said, 'Oh, don't tell me that because I will call someone and get you on it right away,' " he recalls. She kept her promise, and the result was a role that had critics praising his performance as a smarmy Chicago attorney.
"He so committed himself to, what I think, is one of our most evil characters," said Robert King, co-creator of the legal drama, in a phone interview. "Matthew brings with him warmth that the audience automatically feels toward him. He's the kind of guy who will pat you on the back and make you feel at home. We needed that base to create a character who can be villainous, but in a way that creeps up on you."
It was part of a calculated move to switch things up. Perry had wanted to head into the current TV season attached to a drama. Initially, he passed on "Go On." But then reconsidered.
"Much to my chagrin, Scott developed and created a show for me better than I could or did," Perry says.
The show, which deals with serious issues about grieving, relies on doses of comedy to balance the emotional tone.
"It's a comedy about people who talk about their problems in a circle, which is essentially what I've been doing for the last 15 years," he jokes. Perry, following rehab stints in 1997 and 2001, underwent treatment again in May 2011.
After Silveri lists the research he did on support groups in anticipation of putting pen to paper, Perry once more puts the joke on himself: "My research was my 20s, my 30s and a couple of years in my 40s."
He then took on a more serious tone.
"I wouldn't say that I'm trying to air any dirty laundry by doing this — I think most of it has been aired — but I certainly relate to characters who are on that path of some sort of recovery."
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