Margulies thrilled to play dark, complicated woman

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Canterburys Law among new shows celebrating strong female leads

Julianna Margulies admits theres a small part of herself in rebellious defence lawyer Elizabeth Canterbury, the character she plays in Canterburys Law.

Julianna Margulies admits theres a small part of herself in rebellious defence lawyer Elizabeth Canterbury, the character she plays in Canterburys Law.

Canterburys Law is a courtroom drama with a twist: Canterbury defends only those clients she believes to be wrongfully accused, and shes willing to bend and even break the law to win her cases.

Canterburys Law marks Margulies return to network TV after an Emmy and Screen Actors Guild Award-winning run in ER and a multi-episode role in The Sopranos. It wasnt too much of a stretch to go from playing a nurse in ER to a lawyer in Canterburys Law, Margulies said at a press conference to promote the program prior to Novembers writers strike: Her grandmother was one of the first women to practice law in New York State.

So for me, it was an honour, Margulies said.

Theres a sadness to her characters background, a sadness Margulies found troubling to deal with at times, but which helped her define the character.

Shes unraveling, Margulies said of Canterbury. I dont have children, but the idea of a loss of a child - the idea of a child going missing and not having closure, not even having the knowledge that they might be dead - is almost worse than knowing theyre dead.

So theres a lot of room there for this character to evolve. Shes already down as low as she can go.

Denis Leary, the co-producer of Rescue Me and its lead actor, is one of the producers of Canterburys Law.

Im a huge fan of Rescue Me, Margulies explained. When I got the script for this and saw it was from (the same production company), it piqued my interest more than it normally would, because I love how dark that show is, and also how funny it is. I dont think you can have that dark a character without some humour, too. There are similarities there. Its about not being scared to show flawed characters. I think its a much more human approach to portraying someone on television that people are hopefully going to believe in for a long time.

Margulies said that once she shut the door on ER, it was closed for good, despite rumours she would return at some point.

I was never going to go back to ER, she said. Im not one to retrace my steps. To be honest, I was very nervous and hesitant to go back to network television. But when I read this character, I thought, here finally is a character I can play on television. Shes dark and shes complicated and complex. Shes an adult. And I thought she was sexy.

Canterburys Law is the latest in what seems to be a run of hard-hitting dramas featuring strong-willed, middle-aged women in leading roles, Margulies acknowledged, from Saving Grace and Damages to The Closer and now, Canterburys Law.

Its the real gift of television, that it celebrates women, Margulies said. Nothing personal, but its about time. I am so sick of every script I get for a film, the woman is always the girlfriend, the wife, the shadow. It takes a strong woman to support a strong man, whatever. Women arent seen to their full potential the way they are in television.

Geographic location: ER, Canterbury, New York State

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