‘The Good Wife’: Julianna Margulies Snagged Alicia Florrick Role After 3 A-List Actresses Rejected the Part

The Good Wife has been off the air for nearly five years, but the show continues to intrigue fans to this day. From stories of behind-the-scenes drama to hilarious tales from the set, there is plenty to unpack about The Good Wife.

One of the most interesting stories about the making of the show concerns Julianna Margulies, who played Alicia Florrick in the series. According to a recent report, several other A-list actresses actually rejected the role before it made its way to Margulies — at which point she was quick to snag it. 

When did ‘The Good Wife’ debut on television?

Julianna Margulies
Julianna Margulies | Vera Anderson/WireImage)

The Good Wife hit television in 2009, and right away, gained a loyal following of fans who loved the drama and intrigue presented in the series. The show told the story of Alicia Florrick, a stay at home mom who re enters the workforce as a high-powered litigator after her husband becomes involved in a very public sex scandal.

The Good Wife had it all — drama, humor, romance, and political twists and turns. Critics quickly took notice of the show, and over the years, The Good Wife won a slew of awards, including five Emmy Awards.

It also spawned a spinoff titled The Good Fight, starring Christine Baranski as Diane Lockhart, the character that she originally portrayed in The Good Wife.

The acting in The Good Wife consistently earned high marks from critics and fans, with series lead Margulies leading the pack. Margulies brought years of acting savvy to the series and there seems little doubt that without her expertise, the show wouldn’t have achieved the success that it ultimately did. 

How did Julianna Margulies become famous?

Margulies was born in New York in 1966. Raised by parents who had artistic, intellectual interests, Margulies enjoyed a multicultural upbringing and even spent some years in Israel as a child.

She also spent time in France and England. Margulies eventually decided that she wanted to pursue a career in the arts and began performing in university productions. 

By the early ’90s, Margulies had broken into movies, with her first major film role in Steven Seagal’s 1991 movie, Out for Justice. Margulies experienced her first big break when she was cast in a leading role in the television medical drama ER in 1994. She remained on the show for six seasons, becoming one of the most popular stars on the show.

She left at the height of her success on the show, but she proved that she was still a force to be reckoned with in the years that followed, choosing unconventional roles in movies, films, and stage productions. 

Julianna Margulies was not the first choice to portray Alicia Florrick

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

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When showrunners were casting for the role of Alicia Florrick in The Good Wife, they considered many A-list stars. According to a recent report, Helen Hunt was actually the first actress who was offered the role of Alicia, but she turned the part down.

Next, movie star Ashley Judd was offered the part, but she also turned it down, likely because she wasn’t interested in returning to TV for a while.

Finally, Elisabeth Shue, the actress known for dramatic roles in films like Leaving Las Vegas, was courted to play Alicia, but she also turned the part down, stating that she wanted to spend more quality time with her family.

At that point, showrunners invited Margulies in to audition for the part of Alicia. It must have gone well, for she landed the role and ended up receiving boatloads of praise from both critics and fans for her portrayal of the wronged wife, Alicia Florrick.