The Good Wife's Julianna Margulies came to Chicago as the guest of honor at the third annual Steppenwolf Salutes Women in the Arts luncheon.
Coincidentally, the two television series she's best known for -- ER and The Good Wife -- are both set in Chicago.
But she's never tread the boards at Steppenwolf Theatre -- yet. She says she's still waiting for an invite from co-founder and friend, Terry Kinney who by the way shares Chicagoan Oprah Winfrey's birthday, January 29, 1954.
She comes from a family with an advertising exec father Paul best known for coming up with the jingle, "Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is." The Alka-Seltzer jingle.
Steppenwolf Trustee Donna La Pietra is responsible for the sexy and colorful montage of the body of Julianna's work including her playing yet another attorney, this one strutting down a hospital corridor in Scrubs wearing a top hat and tails with fishnets and heels hitting men with her cane in unmentionable places. Exclaimed Margulies, "The clip alone was worth the flight [ to Chicago]!"
The Good Wife is loosely based on the sexcapades of politicians Eliot Spitzer, John Edwards, and Bill Clinton with their lawyer wives standing by them as lawyer/good wife Julianna does with actor Chris Noth.
The character Eli Gold played by actor Alan Cumming in The Good Wife, has been compared with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. (Emanuel's brother Ari, co-CEO at William Morris Endeavor was considered the basis for Chicagoan Jeremy Piven's Ari Gold in HBO's Entourage.)
Margulies also has something else in common with Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Both share the same alma mater, Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, N.Y. It's about a 20 minute drive from Broadway. She says that's why she went to school there. She got an agent her senior year and would go for auditions in New York.
In college when she played the starring role of a go-go dancer in a cage in David Rabe's Tony nominated play In the Boom Boom Room, she knew then she wanted to be an actor because looking out at the audience, "I felt as if I was home."
She was a bartender in midtown in-between auditions while waiting for her big break. "I didn't drink. I don't like alcohol. I am very focused which doesn't go well with alcohol. As a bartender watching others drink at your bar, can make you not drink. But working there was great money."
Margulies has co-starred with Steppenwolf ensemble member Joan Allen and Angelica Huston in the TNT mini-series, The Mists of Avalon, a feminist take of the legend of King Arthur. It was her "dream job" because she got to use an English accent, ride a horse, and kill Saxons. As a child growing up in England, she rode horses.
She did all her own stunts in the Emmy-nominated The Mists of Avalon (2001). One day, she got hit in the neck by an extra flying through the air on a rope and was quite surprised when the director didn't immediately yell, "Cut!" She said she knew her neck injury was serious when the low-budget production sprung for roses while she was recovering.
During her interview with Steppenwolf Artistic Director Martha Lavey, Margulies urged the luncheon crowd to check out her film, City Island (2009) available on Netflix where she calls Andy Garcia's portrayal of a cop "the performance of his lifetime" and Alan Arkin delivers a wonderful monologue, too. Most importantly, it's a show the whole family can watch together, she said.
Next up, she plays a nurse again as she did in ER. This time in the comedy-action film, Stand Up Guys teaming with Alan Arkin once more, Al Pacino and Christopher Walken. It'll be produced by Lakeshore Entertainment and Sidney Kimmel Entertainment.
Al Pacino. Andy Garcia. Alan Arkin. Christopher Walken. George Clooney. Not to mention Josh Charles and Chris Noth fighting over her in The Good Wife. Some girls have all the luck. Julianna, you go girl!
PS: Julianna shares a birthday, June 8, with my great-aunt Sarah who's watching me from up above I'm sure, and will never forgive me if I don't get this in. She never tended bar like Julianna has, but her husband Frank owned a bar in the Cleveland suburb of Parma once upon a time. Aunt Sarah was a pretty lucky gal, too.