“I had finished a marvelous workday with John Slattery and Gary Cole — I didn’t know what was coming,” the actress behind Diane Lockhart recalls to TVLine. “By the time I got home, [series co-creators] Robert and Michelle [King] called me and told me it’s going to be the end… I was stunned. My heart dropped… I tried to
be sanguine and understand the reasoning for it, but it was a loss of so many things: the consistency of the work; the marvelous group of people that constitute the show; the marvelous writing.
“I don’t think I ever took for granted just how lucky I was to be on such a quality show,” Baranski adds. “I started enjoying the work more than ever in my final few seasons.”
The Emmy winner says the Kings proceeded to explain that there were “several reasons” behind the decision to conclude the show with Season 6 (which premieres Sept. 8 on Paramount+). “Robert and Michelle wanted to end it while they could still control the narrative, and [there was a sense] that… perhaps, Paramount[+] did not want our [show], which was left over from CBS [All Access]. And Robert and Michelle didn’t want to learn that the show was being pulled without having the narrative control to bring it to an end. Which can often happen. You finish a season and then you find out it’s been cancelled and the characters are left dangling without that proper push toward a solid narrative conclusion. My concern was that we didn’t have enough narrative real estate to actually do a proper ending, because the decision to end the show was made halfway through [shooting Season 6].” (Reps for Paramount+ and CBS Studios declined to comment for this story.)
Another factor that set the end date news in motion involved fear of repetition (an issue the Kings raised back in May). “It’s a hard show to write because it’s about what’s going on in the world, and I think Robert… didn’t want to risk repeating himself,” Baranski shares. “And I certainly never wanted to risk repeating myself, playing over and over that I was angry or exasperated. It’s possible we had taken Diane’s psychology about being maxed out about what was going on and her inability to cope with it as far as it could go.”
Recalling the final day of shooting, a choked up Baranski shares, “The hardest part was hearing, ‘That’s a series wrap on Christine Baranski,’ and then everyone gathering around and me addressing everybody with whom I had worked… It was very emotional. What I said to everybody was, ‘I haven’t processed this… ‘ And I hadn’t, because it happened rather abruptly. I was also shooting Gilded Age [simultaneously] and my head was full of [dialogue from both shows]. So it wasn’t like I had a lot of time to take long walks and think about it and ruminate. But I’m sure at some point that will happen.
“I’m already tearing up,” she continues, before adding with a chuckle, “I think there’s a lot of feeling there that has to be processed.”
After all, as Baranski points out, she was walking away from a character she had embodied for more than a decade. “It was 13 years,” she marvels of her time on both The Good Wife and The Good Fight. “A lot of life happens to you in those 13 years. My daughter got married. I now have three grandsons. My husband passed away… You don’t get that very often in show business. You usually jump from one job to another. So if you get a long run like this you’re unbelievably lucky.”
Asked if she envisions ever playing Diane again, Baranski muses, “I suppose so. At the moment I’m going to finish up on Gilded Age. And then I’m going to take a vacation. But never say never.”