“I’ve been playing the same character for 10 years and it’s my stage work that has really given me the discipline and the craft to do what I do even on film or TV.” – Christine Baranski
Over both The Good Wife and its spinoff The Good Fight, Christine Baranski has portrayed lawyer Diane Lockhart for nearly ten years. It’s been a remarkable role for an actress who was previously primarily known for her comedic performances on stage and in television shows like Cybill and Happy Family. Speaking with Gold Derby about the role that has brought her six of her fifteen Emmy nominations, Baranski talks about how the role revitalized her career on screen.
Baranski remarks that her The Good Wife role came at exactly the point when she was seeking a strong dramatic role. She recalls:
“Most of my character work has been comedic. Diane came along because after doing nine months of a Broadway farce with Mark Rylance, I said to my manager, ‘You know what would be really good for me as an actress is to play a dramatic character on a TV show, someone with authority who’s well-spoken, a professional woman. That would be a great career move.’ Lo and behold, my manager said, ‘Funny, there’s this one pilot that’s really good this season called The Good Wife’ and so here I am 10 years later. I think it’s been a gift as an actor to go from a career that was so, first of all, stage and so much comedy, to then the longest period of time I’ve worked as an actor playing one character has been in a drama rather than in a comedy. I could easily have been Leonard’s mother for 12 years every week doing The Big Bang Theory and that would’nt have stretched me as much or enriched me as much as an actress.”
Though it has been over a decade since Christine Baranski appeared on Broadway, she appeared on Broadway regularly throughout the 1980s, winning Tony Awards for Best Featured Actress in a Play for The Real Thing and Rumors. Baranski remarks that at one point in her career that was her career goal, explaining, “Studying at Juilliard, what I wanted was to be a great stage actress. I never had it in my head to be a film or TV actor. I didn’t think I had the face for it. Hollywood was some place that was for movie stars. I didn’t dream of a TV career. I just wanted to be on the stage. It served me well because actually now I’ve been playing the same character for 10 years and it’s my stage work that has really given me the discipline and the craft to do what I do even on film or TV.”