tribeca film festival 2016

The Final Good Wife Script Gave Julianna Margulies Lots of Emotions

Margulies. Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/2016 Getty Images

When Julianna Margulies read the script for the series finale of The Good Wife, she was rendered speechless. As the actress revealed Sunday during a Tribeca Film Festival salute to the program, it took four reads — and a glass of wine — before she could respond to show creators Robert and Michelle King, who were waiting to hear if she had any comments, concerns, or revisions. Along with the script came a bottle of wine and a note that read, “Alicia should be drinking while reading this.”

After the first read, Margulies felt “emotionally confused,” and just couldn’t even talk, “because I was having so many emotions,” she explained at the John Zuccotti Theater. After the second read, Margulies attempted to process her reaction with her husband, Keith Lieberthal. He asked, “Do you like it?” And she told him, “I do. It’s so complex!” His response? “That’s exactly how you should be.” “I know you’re right,” she told him, “but I’m sad.” His response to that? “That’s exactly how it should be.”

By the fourth read, Margulies was ready to open the wine and pour a glass. “A wee glass, not an Alicia-sized glass,” she laughed. “You’d be drunk!” This time, she was able to digest the script, finally, and sent her thoughts to the Kings. “I wrote them all of three words,” she said. “‘Nothing but brilliant.’” Asked to give another three words to describe the finale, Margulies offered, “Satisfying, uplifting, and sad.” (Her co-star Cush Jumbo’s three words in turn were, “Happy, sad, sexy.”)

Don’t expect all of the show’s questions to be answered, or all the loose ends to be neatly tied up in a bow, though. Showrunner Robert King cited finales from Six Feet Under, Breaking Bad, and The Sopranos as models, in that the last episode would make a viewer want to start over at the beginning of the series. “The best finales … are novelistic,” King said. “And novels, there is sometimes a level of ambiguity, which is fun. Fun is the wrong word. Resonant, perhaps. You want a last episode that resonates.”

As to rumors that Josh Charles would return to the show in a Will Gardner flashback, the Kings would neither confirm nor deny. Instead, co-showrunner Michelle King mentioned other rumors she’s heard, noting at least one of these is true: “I’ve heard that Peter, at this point, is starting another affair. I’ve heard that Alicia and Eli kiss. I’ve heard that Alicia and Jason run off happily together. And I’ve heard that Michelle Obama guest-starred.”

The most plausible of those rumors sounds like there’s going to be a happy ending, right? “Sure, there’s always a chance,” Michelle King grinned, saying her response would be the same as to whether the opposite was possible as well. But Jumbo said that the Kings do deliver, and that viewers will be satisfied. “They’re not going to let you down,” she said. “They’re not going to sleep with you and walk away. They’re going to cuddle you for a while … and then they’re going to leave.”

Last Good Wife Script Left Margulies Speechless