‘The Good Wife’: A Cast Feud Forced Creators to Use CGI, Green Screens and Body Doubles

For seven years, The Good Wife showed that network television could still be prestige. An ensemble show with an all-star class including Julianna Margulies, Alan Cumming, Christine Baranski, Archie Panjabi, and a revolving door of recognizable names, few scripted dramas tackled current events as effectively as the show. Behind the scenes, however, the drama was even more profound. Margulies and Panjabi had a falling out behind the scenes that required some creative moves to keep the show afloat. 

‘The Good Wife’ was an empowering series

Julianna Margulies as Alicia on CBS drama ‘The Good Wife.’ | Jeff Neumann/CBS via Getty Images

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Although legal dramas are among the most tried and true genres in television, The Good Wife attempted to add a realistic tint to the often melodramatic genre. The result was a look at the current world through the eyes of people who both fight for certain freedoms and enable certain problems in the country.

With a large cast, it was not so much about Margulies’s Good Wife, Alicia Florrickas it was the world around her. As the show took off, the relationships between its characters became an integral part of its success.

With so many heavy-hitting actors, the drama in front of the camera resonated with audiences in ways few other legal and political dramas have. A large part of this had to do with the talent of the cast, but the drama behind the scenes may have played an enormous role, as well. 

One of the show’s most fascinating dynamics had to do with Florrick and Panjabi’s Kalinda Sharma. While initially, Florrick tried to operate on some semblance of a moral code, Sharma did what she needed to do to get favors within the firm as an investigator.

From sleeping with people as a means to get them on board to ruining friendships for gain, Sharma became one of the show’s favorite characters. When Sharma slept with Alicia’s husband, Peter, however, the relationship changed forever. 

Behind the scenes, things were even wilder. 

Drama behind the scenes 

The drama between Margulies and Panjabi’s characters helped drive the show for seven years. As audiences saw Florrick become more like Sharma, the two were driven further apart.

While this was a compelling narrative device, it wasn’t an entirely creative decision. The two actors began to butt heads behind the scenes, and by season four, fans noticed that Florrick and Sharma rarely shared the screen.

However, very little is known about the feud besides the fact that it existed and the show had to do creative things to work through it. Some believed that it was jealousy on Margulies’s part after Panjabi’s Emmy win. When pressed upon the feud, Panjabi played coly. 

“I’ve said what I’m going to say. We are living in a world where everybody wants to know everything,” the actor said (per Nine). I completely understand why everyone asks about it. Everybody I meet asks me about it, in some roundabout way. I just feel like I’m doing work because of that character”

Margulies, on the other hand, remained mostly silent on the drama. In the meantime, producers were forced to make some creative decisions to keep the characters going.

Optical illusions

Up until season six, the lack of shared screen time between the two stars remained the same. In the next-to-last episode of the sixth season, however, with Sharma on the verge of leaving the show, the characters met at a bar.

It looks like a typical scene. However, eagle-eyed fans noticed that something was off about the way it was presented. 

Despite being together, neither character locks eyes with one another, nor do they cross a plane in the middle of the screen. This was because neither actor reportedly wanted to film with the other.

To bypass this, they filmed separately to avoid drama and used CGI to make it appear as though they were together, reports E!.

TV Line reports: “Body doubles were employed for the single shots, and the two-shot was spliced together in post-production.”

Both actors moved on, but their drama shows just how much behind-the-scenes drama can hinder production. Luckily for The Good Wife, they found a way to do so. The relationship between the actors, however, remains a mystery to this day.