It's not that Julianna Margulies didn't take acting seriously. It's just that she only intended to give herself a few years after graduating from Sarah Lawrence College to make a name in the industry.
If it hadn't happened by the time she turned 25, she probably would've gone to law school or gotten a psychology degree, she told The Times in 2010. "I had a backup plan," she said.
That wasn't necessary, as it turned out. Margulies landed a role in Steven Seagal's 1991 action movie "Out for Justice," and shortly thereafter a part on the gritty TV drama "Homicide: Life on the Street." It wasn't long before NBC's nascent doctor drama "ER" cast her as the troubled but compassionate nurse Carol Hathaway.
During her six-year stint on "ER," she snagged five Emmy nominations and one win before walking away from the series and a reported offer of $27 million for two more seasons. She told The Times in 2010, simply, "It was time to go."
"I love making money, but you can't live your life waiting to get rich in a job that no longer feeds you artistically," she said. "I've done so many independent movies I'm sure no one will ever see, but I've loved the work. Then I will go and make a miniseries and pay my mortgage, and then I'll go and do a play, and then I'll go and do ‘The Sopranos' and pay my mortgage."
Along with guest-starring roles on HBO's "The Sopranos" and ABC's "Scrubs," she appeared in the miniseries "The Mists of Avalon" and independent films like "City Island" and "The Man From Elysian Fields."
More recently, she may be best known for her lead role in the CBS legal drama "The Good Wife," playing the long-suffering spouse of a cheating politician. She won an Emmy for her portrayal of Alicia Florrick, a tougher-than-she-looks lawyer navigating a restarted career and a rocky marriage.
"Television is such a fantastic medium for women," she told The Times in 2013. "It allows actresses to have these interesting characters to have a life, to grow."
"Good Wife" executive producer-writer Robert King said he knew Margulies would be perfect as Alicia because of her "powerful presence," tempered with "the skill to play the lighter side, so that you don't feel you're reliving Ibsen every week. And because we'd seen her comedy chops on ‘Saturday Night Live' and ‘Scrubs,' we knew she could do it all."