It’s been a long road for Julianna Margulies and The Good Wife.
After seven seasons filled with melodrama and intense emotion, Margulies and her loyal audience are saying goodbye to The Good Wife (a.k.a. Alicia Florrick) for good. That’s 156 episodes of pure dedication, which isn’t that surprising considering the show garnered 180 award nominations during its run, and won a remarkable 28 of those — Margulies herself winning at least eight based on her performance alone.
The figurehead of The Good Wife, Margulies is one of the first women on TV to lead a show for such a long period of time, and she’s paved the way for other strong female characters to follow. Global News was present during a multi-outlet interview of Margulies, and here’s what she had to say about the show coming to an end. (The Good Wife series finale airs on Global TV on Sunday, May 8 at 9 p.m. ET.)
Global News: What was it like filming the last episode of The Good Wife?
Julianna Margulies: It was bittersweet, you know? It was one of those things where you want to leave people wanting more. And at the same time there’s — to me — so much more to find out about Alicia. And I’m just sad not to be acting with these wonderful actors and this great crew.
Do you think Alicia can ever truly be happy?
I think she can. And I think this season, being able to feel carefree with Jason, and leave her cares outside the door for a minute, has shown her a way to move forward. And her relationship with Lucca Quinn has allowed her to understand what true friendship is, and what it means to have a loyal friend who’s after nothing, except truly liking you as a person. And I think that will definitely help her find happiness.
But I think at the core of her being, you know, it is called The Good Wife for a reason. And I think, ultimately, she’s a good girl. And so the tough decisions she has to make… those sometimes make her feel like she’s not the good girl anymore. I think that constantly weighs her down in her ultimate happiness. But my wish would be (if we could see her in the future) that she wouldn’t care about what anyone thinks at all. And she would be able to forge ahead. I think that’s the path we see her going on as the series ends.
How much of Alicia Florrick did you know at the beginning? And has the show played out the way you thought it would?
I asked them not to tell me anything, because I felt that it was important for my acting ability to grow with her and not know. In life we don’t know how our day is going to be. So I didn’t really want to know. I didn’t want to play the end of a scene in the beginning of the show. So there was one thing I did know: they told me from the beginning that they knew exactly how the very last scene would play out. I did know that. But I didn’t know where it would come from, or how it would happen, and I was happy not to.
And I can tell you this, we had to shoot the last scene of the very last episode first when we were shooting the last episode. And I looked at Christine Baranski, and I said, “Well, people are either going to love it or hate it. But there definitely won’t be any grey matter in between.”
How are you going to cope with not being a lead actress and producer? You’re going to have a lot of free time.
From your lips to God’s ears. Yes, I always manage to somehow make myself busy. You know, I will welcome some downtime. I’m very good at filling my space. I’m looking forward to reading all the books I’ve been trying to read, seeing my friends who I feel like I haven’t seen in seven years, and going to plays when I feel like it. And going to the gym every day, and just enjoying life for a minute, and being a mom, and a wife.
You know, I love the idea that I can actually show up to school, you know, class trips, and be there for my kid in the morning and at night. So I’m really looking forward to that. That being said, we wrapped two weeks ago. And I haven’t had a free moment yet. But I’m counting the hours until that happens.
When the show started, did you think Alicia would become this unlikely feminist icon? What did you learn about yourself on this journey with Alicia?
When we started the show I didn’t imagine anything except hoping it would stay on the air, honestly. I remember seeing the pilot and thinking, “Well, I think it’s smart television. But I’m not sure they’re going to pick it up.”
So then once it started going, and women would stop me on the street because they identified with her, I was amazed. Mostly because I just always assumed a) no one knows who I am, and b) I was just so touched that I had somehow touched their lives. So I think “feminine icon” might be a little drastic. I’ve never thought of Alicia in that way.
But I’ll tell you this: at the end of the show, I received this gift from a bunch of people from around the world. It was a mason jar full of notes written by fans from all over the world. And when I say that I mean Syria, Greece, Poland, China and Japan. I mean, it was from everyone, and I read every single one. And the ones that struck me the most were these women who told me they started watching in college, and now had their law degrees, and were practicing law because of Alicia. And that for me, it brought me to tears, because I had no idea the reach was so strong, and deep and wide.
Seven seasons and seven years later, what role would you attribute to The Good Wife in such a diversified television landscape? It has expanded and grown so much in these last seven years, not only in numbers, but also in terms of diversity.
I think it’s made network television executives not as afraid to put on challenging television, and to have female leads. I mean, you can see it with Scandal, with Kerry Washington. Right away, cable jumped on board with female leads, with Claire Danes and Robin Wright and Julia Louis-Dreyfus.
I feel like it opened up a door to show networks that women have a huge fanbase. And that women like watching women. What’s been amazing is I started out thinking because of its title, I would get more reaction from females. But once we went onto this syndication cycle, men started binge-watching it.
And nowadays it’s equal territory: female and male. There doesn’t seem to be a gender gap when it comes to who watches the show at all. I think because the title said “good wife,” men didn’t give it a chance. But even Howard Stern is now a devoted fan. So when you can get Howard Stern interested, you know you’ve done pretty well.
‘The Good Wife’ series finale happens on Sunday, May 8 at 9 p.m. on Global TV.
This interview has been edited and condensed.