It’s been almost a decade since actress Christine Baranski landed the role of powerful lawyer Diane Lockhart, first in the hit drama The Good Wife, then continuing the portrayal in its spin-off, The Good Fight. But the 66-year-old Mamma Mia star says she could not have predicted what Diane would be up against as a lawyer in the age of Trump.
How do you feel about The Good Fight becoming more political than The Good Wife ever was?
I don’t think any show captures the feeling in the country as well as our show. We’ve somehow picked up on what it is like particularly to be an educated liberal feminist lawyer living in the age of Donald Trump. Also, how strange it is, particularly for women, to be living in this current presidency when our expectations were that we would have a woman in the White House now.
How does that add to the appeal of playing Diane Lockhart?
What we’re living through now is almost nightmarish and of all the seasons, [the first season] was my ninth year of playing the character and I’d never enjoyed playing her more, precisely because it is a very strange time to be alive.
How would you describe Diane now?
[In the second season] things changed for all the characters but especially for Diane, who was always the sensible one in the room for seven years on The Good Wife. The writers did something so brave because they took that reasonable, graceful character and made her unhinged, which was a dramatic choice.
She actually couldn’t cope anymore and was taking drugs and sleeping with a bartender and wielding a gun in her handbag for fear of getting shot so she was psychically raw.
After all these years, what is it about playing Diane that you still enjoy?
Often, we portray women in film and television as victims of men or victims of circumstance. We make them crazy and unhinged and that’s what makes them interesting. But Diane is an interesting complex woman, who is not crazy and not particularly angry. She has a marriage, she has a sex life, she has a professional life. But [by the end of the second season] she’s also suddenly become an un-indicted co-conspirator in a possible presidential assassination attempt so she’s never boring!
Has playing a lawyer rubbed off on you?
I like to joke that I couldn’t talk my way out of a parking ticket with all of the legal language that I’ve learned! (laughs) But I think I’ve become quite a history buff since playing Diane and my intellectual skill set is sharper. Maybe that’s the crossover between Diane Lockhart and Christine Baranski; that Diane has entered enough of me that she’s sharpened my intellect and my ear so as much as I want to turn off the TV and not deal with what’s going on in the world, I find that like Diane, I want to be awake and present for this singular time in history.
So, the show has never tweaked your interest in becoming a lawyer?
Given that I’m going into my tenth year as Diane, if I’d had any idea it would last this long, I might have taken courses in law over the summer each year and when this show finally ends, I probably would have had enough credits to be a practising lawyer.
Ironically, I have a daughter who has a law degree and she works at the DA’s (District Attorney) office in Brooklyn on domestic violence issues, so the young Diane Lockhart really is my own daughter...
What can we expect from season three?
You’re going to see more of Diane with Kurt McVeigh (Gary Cole) as he moves in and they begin to finally have a real marriage. It’s also going to be a lot more about Diane and Kurt’s politics and how they are trying to work out their different points of view in a Trump age. That isn’t a surprise given where Diane ended up last season but as well as the courtroom cases that are always interesting and quirky each week, we will really be digging into that marriage.
Season 3 of The Good Fight premieres on Wednesday, 17 April at 8:30pm on SBS. Catch all episodes at SBS On Demand after they air.
0:36 Destroyer / Great Nicole Kidman performances
6:40 Fiona's interview with Destroyer director Karyn Kusama
21:29 Pagan Peak, a new German series
We've been through a lot this season. Police corruption, ricin scares, reality show coverups, and a strategically hidden pee-pee tape. And now Sarah and Dan are here to discuss the season finale of The Good Fight: Luca has a baby, Adrian, bamboozles some less than stellar Republican talent, and Diane finds herself at the centre of a conspiracy to assassinate the President of the United States.