The Good Wife’s tough chick tells all

STUDIO: There was no shortage of plot developments and character upheaval in series three of The Good Wife.  Notably, the female characters appeared to become tougher, feistier, ballsier.  Would you agree?

Archie Panjabi: Definitely, and I think that's a real part of the shows international appeal.  It's not often that you get to see strong confident women represented on screen and when they are, they're inevitably depicted as bitches.


Women want to see strong, aspirational female characters, just look at the huge success of shows such as Desperate Housewives and Sex And The City.  It's far easier to make female characters appeal to men, but making sure women viewers like them is tougher – that's what those shows and The Good Wife have done so well.


STUDIO: What's in store for your character, Kalinda Sharma, in the next series?  How would you like to see your storylines develop?

AP: We've actually just started filming series four and I can honestly say I couldn't have asked for anything better.  Kalinda has always been very secretive, enigmatic and slightly detached, but you're introduced to her husband in the next series, which helps give real insight into her character.  We start to learn what makes her tick and understand the reasons behind some of her behaviour.  As an actress, I've found it intriguing to get beneath her skin a little more, and I hope the audience does too.


STUDIO: Marc Warren has been cast as your husband.  Have you enjoyed working so closely with a fellow Brit?

AP: Well, I have to say that I've been made to feel incredibly at home in the US, but it has been great to have Marc on set.  We share a similar sense of humour and he keeps coming out with very British sayings and phrases that only I understand!




STUDIO: You started your career in British films such as East Is East and Bend It Like Beckham.  What do feel are the main differences between working in film and on a long-running television series?

AP: I've been lucky enough to work with some incredible directors such as Ridley Scott and Michael Winterbottom.  I think that the element of improvisation in British films has given me a good grounding for television and taught me the importance of understanding your back-story.   I love the work of Mike Leigh and Ken Loach and that deep understanding of your character is central to the way they work.


Working on a long-running show can be challenging, because you're constantly looking for ways to keep your character fresh and interesting.  Often there's very little time between getting a script and shooting so you're forced to make quick decisions and choices about how to play a scene, which presents its own difficulties.


The most important this is to never get complacent about your character, never take it for granted that you do know what they'll do or how they'll react to something.


STUDIO: What has been your experience of being a British-Asian actress in the US?

AP: The American industry has welcomed me with open arms, and my uniqueness has been celebrated.


I'm incredibly proud of my culture, but never wanted it to define me as an actress, which I sometimes felt was the case when I started out.  That's what I've loved about playing Kalinda, the focus is on her as an individual with complex character traits, and everything else is irrelevant.  I feel after playing her for three series that when I go to castings now my own colour and culture is not a driving factor.


I want to be able to switch on the television and see faces of all ages, backgrounds and ethnicity represented.  I think that plays a vital role in eliminating prejudice, and if I can play a small part in that, then great!


STUDIO: Finally, congratulations on your Emmy Nomination this year!  How important are industry awards and recognition to you?

AP: Thank you.  I absolutely love what I do, but it is hard work, so to get such huge recognition is really rewarding, particularly as I was a relative unknown when I moved here.  Personally it makes me more motivated and makes me want to work harder.


It's not necessarily about wanting or needing public recognition, but when it comes you can take a deep breath and say, "After all the hard work I put in and the risks I took, people like what I'm doing."  That's the best feeling in the world.



Words by Ella Waving.



The Good Wife: Season 3 is released on Blu-ray and DVD August 27th.




“As an actress I’ve found it intriguing to get beneath Kalinda's skin a little more.”

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