The Good Wife’s Julianna Margulies: ‘TV offers stronger and more diverse roles for women’

Naomi Ackerman
Diverse: Julianna Margulies prefers roles on the small screen

The Good Wife star Julianna Margulies today hailed television for offering actresses stronger and more diverse roles than film.

Margulies, who rose to fame alongside George Clooney in hospital drama ER, admitted it has been a “joyful experience” welcoming movie star friends to her TV “world” — including Reese Witherspoon following the critical acclaim for her Big Little Lies series last year.

The 51-year-old, who has won a Golden Globe, said: “I was at an event and Reese Witherspoon was there and I said ‘Welcome to my world!’ and she was like, ‘I didn’t know it could be so great!’ — and it’s true, women are celebrated so much more in television, and more women get to write television, and that’s why we get more diverse roles.”

In The Good Wife, Margulies played lawyer Alicia Florrick, who rebuilds her career after her marriage to a senior politician falls apart.

(Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for National Board of Review)

She said: “I was thrilled to go where the roles had depth, rather than just to be ‘the girlfriend of’ in a big movie — that didn’t really interest me as an actress.”

She will return to the small screen next month as manipulative magazine executive Kitty Montgomery in new dark comedy, Dietland, about society’s obsession with weight loss.

Its plot sees a posse of vigilante women scour New York City kidnapping and murdering rapists.

Margulies, who claimed that both Steven Seagal and Harvey Weinstein had tried to lure her to hotel rooms as a 23-year-old, believes the #MeToo movement is the beginning of a seismic change in the way women are treated.

“I was in a costume fitting for Kitty when the Weinstein story broke … I don’t think this is anything new,” she said. “I think the dialogue has just started.”

Margulies continued: “[Ageism] is still a horrible problem ... The second people realise that laugh lines are wonderful and earned and that having an expression is a good thing, rather than a stone face, then maybe we can get back to a film and television industry that is about human beings and not about robots.

“But I think there are definitely moulds being broken by actresses like Charlotte Rampling, Helen Mirren and Meryl Streep.

“I feel that there is this strange sort of backlash against ‘dear god she is over 35, we can’t cast her’... I think it is slowly breaking down, because they are realising that women want to see women who are like them.”

Dietland will air on Amazon Prime Video on June 5