Julianna Margulies interview

US actress on playing disgraced politician's wife other half in The Good WIfe

Interview, Time In
Interview, Time In

We’ve noticed a trend emerging of late: TV stars who found fame during the ’80s and ’90s have started resurfacing on popular US TV shows. Alan Dale (aka Jim Robinson from hit Aussie soap Neighbours) is one –
we’ve spotted him on everything from The OC to recent fairytale drama Once Upon A Time; Julianna Margulies, of ER fame, is another. The 45-year-old actress stars in legal drama The Good Wife as Alicia Florrick, the disgraced wife of a state attorney (Chris Noth), who finds herself in the role of breadwinner when her high-profile husband is jailed following an all-too-familiar corruption and sex scandal. Here, we hear from the actress about what it’s like playing tough-as-nails Alicia.

Shooting the Chicago-set Good Wife in New York is a sensitive spot for Chicagoans…
I’m very aware. [Co-star] Josh Charles tweets, and he lets me know the fine people of Chicago are not happy with our New York choice. It’s ironic that I ended up on two shows based in Chicago. I’m from New York and, aside from my family being here, when you’re on a television show it’s your life. It’s nine and a half months a year, five days a week, 14 hours a day.

Actors are routinely asked how similar they are to their characters. Do people often ask you what you’d do if you learned your husband had been unfaithful?
Every single person is saying, ‘What would I do?’ I got it today: we were shooting and a woman stopped me on the street and said, ‘Stay with Peter!’ Two steps later, a woman said, ‘You gotta go back to Will!’ I was very judgmental of all those political wives that you saw standing by their man. It’s not that I’m feminist so much as I’m a believer in equal rights, and I can’t imagine a man standing up on a podium behind his cheating wife. But I went from being very judgmental about it to questioning what I would do in that situation if children were involved.

Given your parents’ own divorce, do you ever channel your mum to play Alicia?
[Laughs] There’s no aspect of Alicia that channels my mother. My mum was much more of a free-spirit hippy woman. Coming from a divorce and then playing a character going through a pending divorce definitely makes me much more sympathetic to the children.

After playing Alicia, you’ve noted that women over 40 can stop being people-pleasers. As a woman over 40, does that speak to you?
Yeah. For me it was 36. I started realising I had to do what I wanted to do. People panic about getting older, but your life is so much better lived with knowledge. Life throws you curveballs, but as you learn from these curveballs you become a better person.

What’s been the biggest curveball for you?
Finally realising that I needed to be in New York to feel like I had my life around me.

The web is quite enthused about your husband’s looks.
I know. I happened to marry an incredibly gorgeous man. People are a little miffed by his existence because whenever we go to these award shows, people just don’t understand that he’s not a movie star. And then the poor man has to go into work on Monday, he runs a company, and on his desk will be People magazine’s ‘Number one hottest spouse: Keith Lieberthal.’ [Laughs] It’s a little hard to then bark orders at someone when they’re all laughing.

After ER, did you ever wonder, ‘What did I do?’
Never. I’m a smart girl. I had money in the bank. The day I left ER, I flew straight to Prague making a ridiculous sum of money doing a miniseries for TNT. Then I did a play off Broadway, and two independent films. For me, I was living the dream.

What’s this like the second time around?
I’m savouring every minute, because I’m very aware how fast this all goes.
The Good Wife airs every Monday at 7pm on MBC 4.

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