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Archie Panjabi is back on broadcast television.
The Emmy winner appeared Tuesday at the Television Critics Association’s summer press tour as part of a panel for the upcoming second season of NBC’s Blindspot. Panjabi is set to heavily recur on the drama as the head of a secret division of the NSA that has been tracking the Jane Doe (Jaimie Alexander) case from afar. Blindspot marks her first broadcast role since her breakthrough role on The Good Wife, which earned her an Emmy award in 2010. Panjabi starred on the acclaimed CBS legal drama as mysterious investigator Kalinda Sharma for six years before leaving when her contract ended.
Panjabi exited amidst growing rumors of tension with her co-star Julianna Margulies. The two famously went long stretches without sharing scenes together, and when their two characters did appear together in the season six finale, it was later revealed that they did not actually shoot the scene together.
When asked about the scene, Panjabi dodged the question of any friction. “Look, I loved playing the role of Kalinda. I had such a great time on it. It’s something that’s very special to me,” the actress told reporters. “I’m so thrilled to be on another show. In terms of anything that happened on The Good Wife, I think it’s only respectful for it to stay on The Good Wife. It was time for me, for many reasons, to unzip the boots and step into another show.”
(However, Panjabi did reveal that she will don a pair of boots on Blindspot.)
When asked specifically what made her want to join Blindspot, she said it was because the role presented a new challenge.
“I’ve always loved to do stuff that is completely out of my comfort zone. And I have always wanted to do an action-based TV show,” she said. “So when the inquiry came in for Blindspot, my first reaction was, ‘Oh gosh, I’d be terrified to do something like that,’ which is why I finally decided I wanted to do it.”
For now, her Blindspot role remains shrouded in mystery, much like her part on Good Wife. “I really like the character but I can’t give anything away,” Panjabi said. “She is tough. She is tenacious. She is wild. She is unpredictable.”
The producers of the series praised the casting. “It’s like winning the lottery to have Archie on the show and, meanwhile, it keeps the dynamic fresh,” said executive producer Sarah Schechter.
Executive producer Martin Gero said that Panjabi’s character “acts as a soothing mom” for the team and helps to bring them back together after going their separate ways at the end of season one.
The actress’s addition is one of several changes for season two, which also includes new series regulars Luke Mitchell and Michelle Hurd, as well as a new timeslot: Wednesdays at 8 p.m.
“One of the reasons we went so hard after Archie was we wanted to bring new viewers in,” said Gero. “We always say we want to reward our loyal viewers and not alienate our casual ones.”
Although the season two premiere of Blindspot will focus heavily on the show’s mythology, it will eventually “nestle back into a tattoo case-of-the-week,” said Gero. “If the first season was about who is Jane Doe, we want to answer those questions so we can move into what the second season is about.”
There also will be less violence in season two and more humor resulting in a “lighter” show, according to Gero. However, he assured the room that it won’t be “unrecognizable” to returning viewers. “We don’t want the show to totally reinvent itself,” he said.
Blindspot is set to return for season two on Wednesday, Sept. 14, at 10 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.
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