Alan Cumming has played a lot of different characters in his career, but he has never played a character quite like Detective Dylan Reinhart. Cumming, who was nominated for four Primetime Emmy Awards while on the “Good Wife” on CBS, loves the challenge of playing Reinhart because he is multilayered. Reinhart is a professor, a former CIA spy and an author. He’s also the first openly gay leading male character ever on network television, but Cumming believes that’s the least interesting thing about his eccentric character.

Cumming chatted with CBS Local’s DJ Sixsmith about his career, working with Whoopi Goldberg and why Reinhart is such a fascinating character.

DJ Sixsmith: Your professional career began back in the 1980s on the stage in “Macbeth.” What’s the biggest difference between the actor you were then and the actor you are now?

Alan Cumming: I’m more confident. I’ve realized that acting is not about putting things on top of yourself, it’s about letting yourself come through. When I realized that, I became a much better actor. I remember the play and the moment when I realized “oh, this is what acting is about.” I’ve said it before, I apologize to anyone who saw me in a play before that. I wish I could give you your money back.

DS: You’ve played a lot of different characters in your careers. What’s the greatest challenge of playing Detective Dylan Reinhart?

AC: It’s a challenge because Dylan has so many different characteristics and many different sides to him. He is a college professor, an author, a former CIA spy and he’s kind of an eccentric and bad ass. He’s gay and has all these confounding characteristics that make him really fun to play, but also challenging because you have to weave so many different things into one person. I actually really like that.

DS: “Instinct” has a great cast. Whoopi Goldberg is one of the co-stars of the show. What’s been most surprising about working with Whoopi?

AC: Her stories. I’ve known her a little bit for years. We were filming somewhere and she said “I remember coming down here with my dad to a bunch of leather bars.” I said what!

DS: You play the first leading gay character on network television. The show is one episode in, so how do you think your character and the show have been received so far?

AC: From my perspective, people seem to really like the show and have been really positive. It did well in the ratings. In terms of the gay thing, nobody mentioned it. A lot of people said good for you because it is the first openly gay character in a leading role in American network television. But since the show’s come out, I’m glad people don’t mention that Dylan is gay. I think actually that is a really positive step. It’s not the most interesting thing about him and it’s not what the show is about. I think that’s the direction we need to be going in. We need to show people how he is and doesn’t have them focus on one aspect.

DS: “Instinct” returns with a new episode on Sunday. What can people expect when they tune in?

AC: There’s a killer who is doing this medieval ritual when he kills people. He shoots them with a crossbow and chops their head off. It’s a medieval ritualistic murderer and there’s a lot of that in this episode. You’ll see me handle a chicken and get into a fight with someone. There’s a lot going on.

Watch “Instinct” on CBS Sunday at 8pm EST/PST.