'The Good Fight' Team Reveals How "Fake News" and Politics Factor Into 'Good Wife' Spinoff

Christine Baranski, Cush Jumbo, Sarah Steele and Carrie Preston open up about what Diane Lockhart, Lucca Quinn, Marissa Gold and Elsbeth Tascioni have been up to in the past year.
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Cush Jumbo, Christine Baranski and Rose Leslie at 'The Good Fight' premiere in N.Y.

Like its predecessor The Good Wife, spinoff The Good Fight will and has been heavily affected by the current political climate, with its characters tackling some of the same issues the government's addressing.

But beyond the Trump administration, the phenomenon behind one of the president's favorite phrases, "fake news," will also factor into the legal drama, star Rose Leslie teased at The Good Fight premiere in New York earlier this week.

Leslie, who plays Maia Rindell, a young lawyer and goddaughter of Christine Baranski's power attorney Diane Lockhart, told The Hollywood Reporter that she'd just finished filming an episode in which "fake news is very relevant."

"There are some falsehoods being spread on the Internet about Maia that are jeopardizing her profession and her reputation," Leslie said. "That is scary to see how something can just grow, spread like wildfire, in terms of reliable sources that begin to believe something that isn't true. We see the danger in entering a world whereby truth is no longer relevant."

As for Diane, the liberal feminist likely would have campaigned for Hillary Clinton, in keeping with her support of women's causes, Baranski said. And when viewers see Diane in The Good Fight, she has been affected by both Clinton's loss and Trump's win.

"There's a wonderful scene where I actually put a picture of Hillary into a box as I'm packing up my office," Baranski told THR. "While we were doing the [first episode], it was the few days before, during and after the election. I think the writers anticipated that Hillary Clinton would win the presidency and that didn't happen so we kind of altered the [show] a bit to accommodate the fact that we're now living in a Donald Trump administration. And I think the show will offer wonderful opportunities to explore people that are living in Chicago in a Trump presidency. So it's going to be a very contemporary show."

As for what perspective The Good Fight will take on various political issues, Good Wife co-creator and Good Fight co-showrunner Robert King explained, "I think the key for us was always, the show wanted to comment on the present day — not [necessarily] from a left-leaning attitude [but instead] that looked at it from a little more of a grey area. So a lot of it was finding subject matter where you don't become earnest, where you're not preaching to the audience that you think isn't going to listen to you anyway. On the other hand, the world is liberal Chicago. It's Chicago in the loop, and that's a bit more liberal than the country in general."

The Good Fight centers on Maia, Diane and fellow Good Wife character Lucca Quinn (Cush Jumbo). Picking up a year after the events of The Good Wife finale, The Good Fight begins with both Maia and Diane as the victims of a Ponzi scheme. Ultimately, both women end up working for another one of Chicago's preeminent law firms.

To understand Maia and Diane's backstory, Leslie told THR that she and Baranski spent an evening together talking about the relationship between their characters and "built it backwards."

"It was more breaking down the character and how long she'd been in my life. If she's a godmother than that's presumably from the beginning. And we realize that she was a mentor for Maia and someone who was that strong foundation, a rock, in terms of a moral compass," Leslie said. "So, yeah, Diane is integral to Maia's happiness and realization that you need to stay true to what you believe in."

As for Diane and Lucca, while they've worked together, things likely ended awkwardly for them a year ago after Lucca asked questions during one of The Good Wife's final trial scenes that suggested that Diane's husband Kurt (Gary Cole) had an affair. Speaking to THR about returning to the world of The Good Wife, Jumbo suggested that Lucca and Diane haven't discussed what happened in court in the year since.

"I was not going to not come back and play Lucca Quinn when they asked me to, especially since they were talking about the story picking up a year later which was very interesting," Jumbo said. "The idea that Diane and Lucca hadn't really hung out in that time so the idea of what those feelings are and what that might've been and what could be. Just the idea that I could act within the same universe, the judges, the courtroom, the whole situation and then meet all of these new people was really exciting to me."

But Lucca has been busy in the year since the events of the Good Wife finale, Jumbo said, also explaining what she thinks transpired with Alicia (Julianna Margulies), who won't be a regular character on the spinoff.

"Lucca and Alicia set up a little firm together. And they worked quite successfully for a number of months and I think Alicia became more and more withdrawn," Jumbo said. "She didn't end up with either Chris Noth's character or Jeffrey Dean Morgan's character [at the end of The Good Wife], and I think she just kind of realized she didn't want to do law. That just wasn't her thing anymore. So I think she went off on a little sabbatical, so that left Lucca a little stranded and she was offered a job at an almost all African-American law firm. Lucca's in there but she kind of takes a few steps backwards. Because although she picks up where her career was before, she's lost her only friend so she no longer has the same interactions as she did before and she's kind of keeping herself to herself until Justin Bartha's character comes along. So I kind of think of her as retreating to a little bit of an island position."

Diane, meanwhile, in addition to coping with the election over the past year, "sort of recovered," Baranski says but is "estranged from her husband after that infamous courtroom scene."

"She moves on with her life. She creates a law firm that is bigger and more powerful. So when we see her at the beginning of The Good Fight she's ready to retire," Baranski told THR. "She's ready to get out of the country and live in the South of France. She's just finishing up her last deposition when she gets a phone call saying that all of her money has been lost in a Ponzi scheme. She's lost her retirement money. She's lost her savings. She has to give up the house in France. And she has to actually look for work. And her law firm won't let her back in even though she created the law firm. She signed an exit package and they don't want to let her back in. The only firm that will offer her a job is an African-American firm, led by Delroy Lindo's character, and we see Diane in a much smaller office, going back to work and having to start again with her life."

Bartha and Lindo are just two of the many actors joining the world of The Good Wife in The Good Fight. Additional new castmembers include Bernadette Peters, Paul Guilfoyle and Erica Tazel.

But some of The Good Wife's familiar faces will make appearances on The Good Fight. Fan favorite Elsbeth Tascioni, played by Carrie Preston, is back for a "couple of episodes," Preston teased to THR, and in the year since The Good Wife, Preston speculates that her quirky on-screen alter ego was "probably learning macrame, taking classes, SoulCycling and then continuing solving cases by the bushel."

Sarah Steele, who played Marissa Gold, the daughter of Peter's (Chris Noth) campaign manager, Eli Gold (Alan Cumming), who went on to work with Alicia during her run for state's attorney in season six, is a series regular on The Good Fight.

And with audiences seeing Marissa outside of her relationship to her dad,  Steele says viewers will learn "about her as she becomes an adult…She has a new job and is trying to build a new life for herself."

Viewers can also expect to learn more about Lucca's day-to-day life, including seeing her in her much larger apartment, Jumbo teased.

"You'll see a lot more in there and kind of get to know a little more about who the outside of work Lucca is," she said. "[Robert and Michelle King] have really cool ways of dropping in little slices of information but not quite revealing [things] and now they can reveal. We're getting to find out a lot more about her, about her family and her background [and why she is the way she is]."

The Good Fight will premiere on CBS and CBS All Access on Sunday, Feb. 19, with subsequent episodes debuting weekly on the streaming service.

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