From 2009 to 2016, The Good Wife thrilled audiences with its sharp writing, phenomenal acting, and multi-episodic story arcs. The show focused on Alicia Florrick, who decided to return to law after her politician husband was involved in scandals. The Good Wife initially had a more procedural format, but story arcs gradually expanded, sometimes moving from one season to the next.
The Good Wife was decorated with awards in its run. Out of 190 nominations - Emmys, Peabodys, Golden Globes, and more - the show won 28 - most for actting. While everything was good in front of the camera and appeared wonderful for viewers, behind-the-scenes told a different story.
It’s difficult to imagine a non-reality show having behind-the-scenes secrets that could cause embarrassment to the show or make an actor or actress look bad. Often, a secret is revealed that is plain silly, which makes fans feel those involved in the show made it worse than what it really was.
Many secrets behind The Good Wife came out after the show ended, with actors, actresses, and creators coming clean about controversies and scandals the show. Others were revealed as the series was in progress. With some of the more intense secrets, it’s a wonder The Good Wife continued for as long as it did.
Here’s 16 Secrets Behind The Good Wife You Had No Idea About.
15 Feud Between Juliana Margulies and Archie Panjabi
When viewers noticed that Juliana Margulies and Archie Panjabi hadn’t been in scenes together for over 30 episodes, rumors of a real-life feud between them circulated. Many of the scenes showcasing Margulies and Punjabi’s characters together were either through phone conversations or a third-party character.
Showrunners Robert and Michelle King said at first, “Part of that has been intentional, which is to try and show this relationship, which was a friendship so strong, is now so worse.”
Panjabi has hinted about the alleged feud, saying “things weren’t totally peachy on set” when asked about her departure from the show in season 6. Margulies also stated “It’s totally gossip,” but fans and the media didn’t really believe Margulies. Especially after a tweet by Panjabi about a season 6 finale scene - more on that later.
14 Panjabi's Departure Excuse Changed
The feud no one talked about, but everyone knew about caused conflicting reports when Archie Panjabi left the show. Rumors swirled that Margulies used her producer power to keep herself and Panjabi away from each other on set.
When it was officially announced Panjabi was leaving the show, fans and the media were told by CBS the actress decided to “pursue other opportunities.” That was a partial truth. Panjabi did sign a deal with 20th Century Fox for potential drama show pilots. With Panjabi’s acting awards for playing Kalinda, it’s clear she could easily star in her own series.
But as the animosity increased between Margulies and Panjabi, writing scenes with them too would be hard, since they’d need to interact with each other. The writers could only have Kalinda and Alica talk on the phone so much.
13 Showrunners Regretted introducing Kalinda's ex
Kalinda Sharma, played by Archie anjabi, was one of the more popular characters on The Good Wife. An openly bisexual private detective? Fans loved it. But over the second and third seasons, Kalinda’s abusive ex-husband was hinted about and eventually made real with dangerous phone calls.
One particular scene had fans calling for an end to the ex-husband storyline.
One altercation included violence and the bawdy use of ice cream, and by the end of the season 4 premiere, viewers cried for the show to wrap up that part of Kalinda’s story.
The showrunners listened. Robert said, “You don’t give James Bond a girlfriend. Some characters you actually don’t want to see that much backstory. We’re adjusting… This was not a place where the audience wanted to go.”
12 Josh Charles Left Later Than He Wanted
Josh Charles played Will Gardner, who was shot dead by a crazy client in a courtroom scene in season 5. The abrupt death shocked viewers, who had expected Charles to be on The Good Wife for much longer.
The actor didn’t have a long-term contract - his ended with the conclusion of season 4.
Creators Michelle and Robert King said in an interview after that episode, “Josh Charles approached us almost a year ago wanting to leave the series.” Charles wanted to leave at the end of the fourth season. He felt he had played out the character, and it was time to move on. However, Juliana Margulies talked Charles into staying on for the fifth season.
Gardner’s death had been planned for nearly a year, and surprisingly kept a secret for that long as well.
11 Matt Czuchry Avoids Questions about Feud
Matt Czuchry played Cary Agos in The Good Wife. Just when his character finally seemed to be getting close to Kalinda, actress Archie Panjabi was leaving the show. Czuchry was asked about the departure and the feud between Panjabi and Margulies.
First, he said about Panjabi leaving that he felt the same way as the official release on Deadline: that she’s ready to shine in her own series. Second, when asked about how Panjabi and Margulies haven’t filmed together is over 50 episodes, Czuchry said, “it’s story driven. Kalinda and Alicia’s characters have grown father apart.”
He was directly asked, “So there’s no behind-the-scenes discord?” But Czuchry evaded again: “It’s all story driven… anything behind that is a question to talk to the Kings about, not really a question for me.”
10 Season 6 Final Scene was CGI
The last scene in the season 6 finale showed Alicia Florrick and Kalinda Sharma sitting at a bar enjoying a drink - seemingly together. But in fact, the two actress did not film the scene together. Instead, each actress was shot separately, and spliced together in front of a green screen.
At first, nothing was confirmed, but the showrunners eventually stated, “it wasn’t their intent to dupe viewers by not having their two females leads actually in the scene together.”
When fans found out, it added fuel to the fire about the rumored feud between Margulies and Panjabi.
By the end of season 6, the two actresses hadn’t been in a scene together for over 50 episodes! Margulies said the finale was shot that way because Panjabi was filming her show The Fall, but Panjabi said in a tweet The Fall wasn’t filming then and she was in New York.
9 Just Like South Park
It seemed like a coincidence for The Good Wife to addressed an issue that the cartoon South Park did just days apart. South Park aired two episodes with the character of the Prophet Muhammad, a sacred holy figure revered by a group called Revolution Islam. After South Park, the Islam group threatened Trey Parker and Matt Stone with violent retribution for insulting the prophet.
In The Good Wife episode, “Boom”, a widow sued the newspaper who published a controversial editorial cartoon drawn by her husband showing the Prophet Muhammad getting searched at the airport. Her husband was killed by a bomb. Scenes never showed the full cartoon, but since The Good Wife tends to use real-life headlines for story ideas, it was clear that episode wanted to make a statement.
8 Julianna Margulies
It may surprise you to learn that Juliana Margulies was not the first choice to play Alicia Florrick.
Even before the creators asked Margulies to come in for an audition, they had offered the role to other actresses.
Helen Hunt was asked to play Alicia, but she declined. The actress had had many years between her television roles around the time casting for The Good Wife began, so perhaps she just wasn't looking to return to TV.
The second person asked to play Alicia was Ashley Judd, who also declined. More focused on movies, Judd had a 16 year break between TV roles (1996 and 2012).
Finally, Elisabeth Shue was asked to audition, but she said no to the role because she wanted to spend time with her family.
7 Kristin Chenoweth's hospitalization
Kristin Chenoweth played Peggy Byrne in The Good Wife until an accident forced her to leave the show. During filming of an episode, lighting equipment fell and hit Chenoweth in the head. The actress got knocked unconscious.
She was immediately hospitalized for a cracked skull and injuries to her hips and ribs.
At the time of her initial recovery, doctors didn’t know if Chenoweth would be able to return to The Good Wife.
Chenoweth stated that at first, she was unable to “form a sentence after it happened” and had constant pain in her hip and ribs. A month after her hospitalization, it was decided that she wouldn’t come back. She had appeared in two episodes.
Two years after the accident, she was still recovering and attending physical therapy. But she said was headed in the right way, not the wrong way.
6 Margulies Gets Her Way
You hear stories of actor or actress’s demands on a set, and you think no one can be that ridiculous or exhausting for a crew. But Juliana Margulies had a specific request, which involved family time. She couldn’t be faulted for the request, but it put the show to task in order to accommodate her.
After Margulies had her baby boy in 2008, she asked to film exclusively in New York City.
Some scenes were filmed in Canada, but Margulies felt she couldn’t go there for 9 months a year.
She also began to shoot scenes differently. Margulies would film her most active parts early in the morning and save scenes where she was in the background for later. Or she would take the rest of the day off.
5 Inspired by Real-Life Drama
The Good Wife resembled other procedurals shows in that many episodes to creative approaches to real headlines. When developing the show, showrunners Robert and Michelle King used real-life personal and political scandals.
The main story that influenced The Good Wife was the the Eliot Spitzer scandal.
Spitzer had used a high-end escort company named Emperors Club VIP for various encounters in a hotel. Spitzer resigned as Governor of New York in March 2008.
Other scandals that inspired the show was the John Edwards affair with a filmmaker who worked on his presidential campaign. Edwards admitted to the affair. Bill Clinton’s also extramarital affair with Monica Lewinsky helped shape some of the stories behind The Good Wife. It’s interesting to note that in the scandals Robert and Michelle King used for inspiration, the spouses or significant others of the offenderd were lawyers.
4 Carrie Preston Contract Conflicts
Before The Good Wife, Carrie Preston was perhaps best known for her role as Arlene Fowler on True Blood. In The Good Wife, she played Elsbeth Tascioni for 14 episodes.
The creators of the show, Robert and Michelle King, wanted Preston for more than season 6, but Preston had just been cast on the show Crowded for NBC. The creators tried to get her back for season 7, except the contract for Crowded stipulated that Preston could only appear in one episode. Unfortunately, Crowded only lasted for 1 season.
The most interesting tie The Good Wife had with True Blood was that Elsbeth’s personal assistant (who is never seen) was named Fantasia. In True Blood, the vampire bar was called Fangtasia.
3 Revolving Door of Actors/Actresses
Juliana Margulies was listed as a producer for 103 episodes. She’s often been blamed for many of the behind-the-scenes issues The Good Wife endured, mainly because of her alleged diva-like attitude.
A number of actors and actresses meant to be leads or major secondary characters didn’t last very long, creating a revolving door of casting choices. It’s been said this was Margulies’s fault, but an accusation like that is hard to substantiate.
Matthew Goode was on for only 28 episodes. Michael Boatman managed 18 episodes. Steven Pasquale went for 13 episodes. Jess Wiexler managed 19 episodes. One of the luckier actors was Graham Phillips, who went 78 episodes. Characters were written off the show so quickly that by the final 7th season very few original charcters were left, and main character slike Diane and Cary were sidelined.
2 Panjabi could only play Kalinda Specific Clothing
Actors and actresses are encouraged to make a character their own. By procuring a speech pattern or physical mannerism, an actor can make a character memorable. Archie Panjabi, who played Kalinda Sharma, took the visible approach by wearing certain clothing items.
In an interview, Panjabi said she can only play her character in high-heeled boots.
She had tried shoes one time, but it changed her walk, and Panjabi didn’t feel it was right for the character. Another recognizable feature of Panjabi’s character was the black leather jacket. The jacket and boots were always donned wherever Kalinda went; it provided a deep essence of the character.
Panjabi said that when she left the show, she couldn’t leave everything behind: the actress took the boots and leather jacket with her.
1 Proposed Guest Stars
TV procedurals shows love to have special guest stars in their episodes. Often, those guest stars are in a single episode, but some return for more than one, like Justin Bieber on CSI. The Good Wife had a number of guest stars, but the cast had their own wish lists.
Christine Baranski, who played Diane Lockhart, wanted to have Alan Rickman on the show. Matt Czuchry was a big fan of Ryan Gosling and Chris Pine. If Gosling and Pine hadn’t have had busy movie schedules, it’s possible the La La Land actor and Star Trek actor would have played a lawyer or client.
Juliana Margulies had her sights set on Alfred Molina appearing. Better recognized as Doc Ock in Spider-Man 2, he did have some experience in procedurals. He had a main role from 2010-2011 on Law & Order: LA.
What did you think of The Good Wife and all the behind-the scenes drama going on? Let us know in the comments!