Variety: In “The Good Wife” and “The Americans,” both of your characters grapple quite a bit with unrequited love. Is that a hard emotion to get across to the audience?
Julianna Margulies: I really think it all depends on who it is you’re acting opposite. With Josh Charles, I got really lucky. We had known each other for years. I had gotten him the job on the show for selfish reasons, because I knew our characters were ultimately going to get together and I wanted to be with someone who I respected and loved working with. It was so easy to act with him because it felt very natural.
Matthew Rhys: It’s the most potent kind of love to play, I think. It’s always the loves in your past where you look back and say, “That was unfulfilled” or “Was that the one?” The relationships that come up short are the “What could have been?”
Margulies: Will and Alicia wouldn’t have been as interesting if they’d stayed together. Our job as actors is to make it so enticing to make you think you want them to stay together. But if you do, within five episodes everyone’s going to get bored. OK maybe not five, maybe 10. But that’s the drama.
Rhys: We’ve all had those relationships where you think, “I wonder what they’re doing now,” “I wonder what would have happened if …”
Margulies: If the stars align, it’s great to play. If you have great writers and actors who like each other. I’ve been lucky. I’ve had Josh and George Clooney. You hear about actors who were doing five years on a series as lovers and actually hated each other. I don’t know if I could pull it off.
MARGULIES: It’s funny: When The Good Wife came to me, it came in such a backhanded compliment. “Ashley Judd was offered this script, but she’s turning it down. Now, I’m going to give it to you, but first, we’re going to Helen Hunt. And if Helen Hunt passes, it’s all yours.”
PAULSON: Sometimes I don’t want to read it when it comes that way.
MARGULIES: I wanted to hate it, because you know, “F– you! You didn’t want me to begin with.” The [Good Wife] writers always say: “No, we always wanted you. It’s just the studio wanted Helen Hunt!” But my agent said a great thing: “No one will know when they watch this show that Helen Hunt was offered it before you.”
DANES: I don’t ultimately begrudge another person getting a job. I really am very Zen about it. I’m meant to do it or I’m not.
RUSSELL: It’s such a fluid business.
I’ve added the season finale screencaps from The Good Wife to the Glamorous Julianna Margulies Gallery.