Baranski’s Defense

Photo: Eike Schroter/Courtesy of CBS (2)

When Christine Baranski isn’t doing theater, she excels at playing the wise, wry, hard-drinking best friend on TV (the nineties sitcom Cybill) and in movies (Mamma Mia!)—a sort of Eve Arden for the modern age. This fall, she trades comic barbs for legalese on The Good Wife, playing lawyer Diane Lockhart, threatened boss of Julianna Margulies. Nevertheless, here’s hoping for a few Baranski zingers.

On the show, Margulies plays a woman whose political husband (Chris Noth) has cheated on her. Timely, no?
The most astonishing thing is that we filmed the pilot before Elizabeth Edwards came out with her book, and before Mark and Jenny Sanford—you couldn’t even write that as fiction. And you then have Berlusconi and his wife. … We just have all these different stories about men being unfaithful and how all the different women deal with it. Is she going to stand there like Silda Spitzer; is she going to say “No, thank you” like Jenny Sanford; is she going to say “I want a divorce, you horny pig”?

Are you worried about the bitchy-boss stereotype?
There was that article in the New York Times [by Peggy Klaus] about women not being supportive of each other in the workplace. For this role, though, I don’t think it’s the sledgehammer kind of bitchiness, which is the obvious thing. It’s hard for Diane to see someone come up the ranks who has a family—unlike herself.

What about Lockhart made you want to play her?
There are so many roles for women that are cringe-worthy. When you’re young, you’re the slut or the victim of the serial killer, and then as you get older, you can be the obnoxious mother-in-law or overbearing mother, or some kind of washed-up alcoholic. There are so many roles where women are handicapped human beings, and here’s a woman who’s one of Chicago’s top litigators, she’s a partner at a law firm, she’s well-dressed, she’s in control. There’s nothing pathetic or funny about her.

The Good Wife
Tuesdays, 10 p.m.
CBS. Sept. 22.

Baranski’s Defense