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Margulies Balances ‘Good Wife’ and Being One

NEW YORK - Julianna Margulies never thought she'd understand Silda Spitzer or Jenny Sanford.

Until she landed the role of Alicia Florrick, the wife of a politician who is busted in a sex scandal. He is shipped off to prison. She goes back to work to keep the family, and herself, afloat, in the CBS series "The Good Wife" (Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT).

On screen, Margulies' Alicia stands by her man. In reality?

"My reaction would have been to get the hell out of there. Until I put myself in her shoes - since I've been playing her - everything has changed," Margulies says. "And since I've had my own child. It's not just about your feelings. The thing I love about her is that she's always balancing things. It's just survival."

The happily married Margulies, 43, has little in common, on the surface at least, with her character. But, says Josh Charles, who plays Margulies' former law school classmate and partner at her law firm, "Jules has a quiet confidence and calm that I think radiates really well with this character. There's the idea of what's going behind the photo of the woman standing by her man - she's able to show grace under pressure."

Margulies was seeking a show in New York, where she lives with her husband of almost two years, lawyer Keith Lieberthal, and their son, Kieran, 1. When she first read the script for "The Good Wife," she says, "I couldn't stop turning the pages. It's very timely. What happens to the family? What are the repercussions? What do you say to each other? How do you even relate to each other?"

Margulies doesn't have any answers. "I was saying to my husband, 'If I found out you had a torrid affair' ..." she trails off. "It's one thing to go through it publicly the way they did, but any way you slice it, it's awful. I'm madly in love with my husband. I hope vows are taken a little more seriously and you go, 'Can you work this out?' Especially if you have children."

Don't get Margulies wrong. "I don't want anyone to think I'm condoning affairs. I'm not. We're so quick to judge everybody. But it's a domino effect."

Margulies says she doesn't know what's ahead for her character, or whether she and her on-screen husband (Chris Noth) end up staying together long-term.

"The Good Wife" has been getting positive buzz. That's a boon for Margulies, who last starred in the short-lived legal drama "Canterbury's Law" last year and remains best-known for her no-nonsense turn as Nurse Carol Hathaway on NBC's "ER."

Work is important, but Margulies is a mom first. Her hot new accessory? Not her Chloe bag, but the Dyson hand-vac she uses to clean up after her son's discarded Cheerios. Kieran, Margulies says, is adjusting to his mom being back at work full time. "He's still getting used to it. He's a year and he doesn't quite understand. He says, 'Mama work.' And I say, 'Yes, Mama is going to work now.' When I was leaving today, he waved bye-bye. Sometimes he gets sad."

Margulies is still adjusting to working 16-hour days and surviving on four hours of sleep. When she gets overwhelmed, she turns to her friend Kyra Sedgwick for advice. "Kyra e-mailed me to say 'One scene at a time and you'll get through it,' " she says. "I find the work exhilarating. I love that I can bring my kid to the show, and I love that weekends are just family."

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