'The Good Wife': Julianna Margulies on Alicia's Love Triangle, Tension With Stockard Channing

Julianna Margulies Paley Center - P 2013
Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

Julianna Margulies Paley Center - P 2013

The actress addresses her character's complicated relationships with estranged husband Peter and mother Veronica.

On the fourth season of The Good Wife, attorney Alicia Florrick may have just found success as a newly-appointed partner at her law firm -- but her love triangle with semi-estranged husband Peter Florrick and boss Will Gardner remains as murky as ever.

The hit CBS legal drama has Julianna Margulies' Alicia -- a character first inspired by Silda Spitzer, the wife of former New York governor Eliot Spitzer who was caught in a prostitution scandal in 2008 – juggling financial problems at the firm and the fight for a coveted partner spot. All the while, she continues to navigate complicated relationships with Peter (Chris Noth) and Will (Josh Charles) that divide the show's fans into "the Will team and the Peter team."

"I’ll get stopped in the street and I’ll hear someone say, ‘Go Peter!’ He slept with hookers, and that’s who you want me to be with?" the actress said earlier this week during an appearance at at New York's Paley Center for Media. "What people now are saying is that, 'Give the guy a break, give him a chance. He knows he fell from grace and he stepped back up.' And he’s really, I would say, done a one-eighty in the eyes of the audience for certain, and slowly in the eyes of Alicia."

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Margulies said she's noticed that most Peter cheerleaders turn out to be men and older women, whom she assumes are considering the two Florrick children. "It’s a struggle in Alicia -- if it weren’t for the children, I don’t think she would have reignited this relationship. But I think when you have children and a family, it changes things. And there’s the question, isn’t it? Can we forgive? It’s a wonderful, moral dilemma that this character’s faced with every day." 

And though plenty of fans are rooting for Margulies to side with Will, with whom she had an affair last season, she understands the general hesitance. "I think a lot of people get excited about that, but most people fear…'It’s your boss! Don’t sleep with your boss, you can’t sleep with your boss.'"

Margulies promises the season will also explore another key relationship of Alicia's: one with her mother, played by Stockard Channing. The question Channing's character Veronica Loy asked Alicia of "Are you happy?" will continue to haunt her daughter in upcoming episodes, as Channing is set to appear in a future episode.

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"As we get to explore the relationship and the history between Alicia and her mother, we’re gonna find more and more out about why she is the 'good wife'," explained Margulies of what's ahead in season four. "I think [Alicia is] trying to fulfill what she thinks happiness is, which is putting her children first. It’s something her mother wouldn’t understand, and I think it’s something she’ll punish her mother for, for the rest of her life. That’s why there will always be this tension. ‘There are more important things than yourself, Mother,’ is what she’s always trying to say."

She continued: "You’ll see in an upcoming episode, she also has a bit of a drinking problem. Which is great because when we first met the mom, you see Alicia start to drink a lot more too. But you do see why she also was protecting her children from her mother in an upcoming episode."

The conversation with Margulies is part of The Paley Center's She’s Making Media series and will air as part of At the Paley Center on PBS stations.