Archie Panjabi Finally Addresses ‘Good Wife’ Controversy, in the Most Frustrating Way
We asked Archie Panjabi, who played Kalinda on The Good Wife, about that green screen controversy. The takeaway: We may never get a satisfying answer.
Forget that series-ending slap. For most of us, the most dramatic storyline to emerge from the seven seasons of The Good Wife is the one that played out in the gossip pages: the purported feud between stars Julianna Margulies and Archie Panjabi.
Appearing at the Television Critics Association conference in Beverly Hills to promote her role on the upcoming season of Blindspot, Panjabi addressed it in the most perfectly awkward way. Because The Daily Beast asked her to.
Taking the bullet for every TV reporter who has yet to receive a satisfying answer to why Panjabi’s Kalinda stopped sharing scenes with Margulies’s Alicia—and more specifically why, when they finally shared a scene together in Panjabi’s last episode, the scene was shot via green screen—we asked her to set the record straight.
Was there a reason for the green screen? And was there a reason that the two actresses spent so much time not sharing a scene, even though it made no sense narratively?
Here’s her response:
“I loved playing the role of Kalinda. I had such a good time on it and it’s a role that’s very special to me. I’m so thrilled to be on another show. In terms of anything that happened on The Good Wife, I think it’s only respectful for it to stay on The Good Wife. It was time for me, for many reasons, to unzip the boots and step into another show. But I can tell you, for those of you who miss the boots, I do wear a pair of knee-high boots on Blindspot.”
You could hear the loud sigh in the room.
We heard that Panjabi arrived at the TCA press tour, essentially a firing squad for actors to be grilled about their new shows, prepared for the question and likely had a canned answer to the question. The charming-ish knee-high boots motif certainly hints that it was true.
For those who don’t know why that answer was so dissatisfying, here’s a quick primer.
As has been widely reported, Margulies and Panjabi, leading up to the early exit of Panjabi’s character Kalinda from the series, had not shared a scene together for a whopping 51 episodes of The Good Wife. Despite the characters working together and, for much of that run, being friends (albeit complicated ones), the actresses were never actually in the same frame—when Margulies’s Alicia needed to talk with Panjabi’s Kalinda, it was almost always by phone.
It was speculated, but not ever confirmed, that Margulies and Panjabi did not get along off-screen and, as a producer on the show, it was Margulies’s request that the two not film together.
On the occasion of Panjabi’s final episode in the series, for the finale of the sixth season of the series, the characters finally shared a scene together—but the actresses did not.
Sharing a drink at a bar, the actresses were superimposed together using CGI. They did not film the scene together. Asked why the scene was shot that way, series creators Robert and Michelle King wouldn’t go “into the gossip of it," referring to speculation of a feud between Margulies and Panjabi as “the elephant in the room” that they would not discuss.
Asked about it by Us Weekly, Panjabi even went as far to say as she was not allowed to discuss why the scene was filmed using green screen technology.
“You know, I can’t answer that,” she said. “It’s not fair for me to answer those decisions. As much as I want to. But those decisions are made by the producers. I’m not privy to those decisions. All I know is I’m very grateful to the Kings for making the decision to cast me.”
Rumors that the actresses didn’t get along and that Margulies asked for Panjabi not to film with her were exacerbated by an unfortunate she-said-she-said situation between the actresses. Margulies dismissed the rumors during a live interview with Vulture, calling it “totally gossip.”
“There’s no story there, sorry,” she said. “I actually had heard [that rumor] and I feel that it has been talked about and answered. I feel people just like to have gossip or make something into something that isn’t there. There’s no animosity on my part. It’s a shame, because I wonder if it was two men, when one finds out that he fucked his best friend’s wife, if it would get that same attention, you know what I mean?”
She attributed the green screen final scene to the fact that Panjabi was out of New York (where The Good Wife films) shooting another TV series, The Fall.
Panjabi, in one of the greatest instances of celebrity tweeting of all time, posted a link to the Vulture article and tweeted, “The Fall was not even in production at that time and I was in New York ready to film the scene!”
Panjabi’s comments at the TCAs probably won’t represent the last time she’ll be asked about the feud. And TV writers likely won’t move on from it. But, truth be told, Panjabi’s tweet is one of the biggest reasons that we’re all so fascinated by it.
The main reason that her answer to our question was frustrating is that it was probably frustrating for her as well. She has clearly, as she hinted in her tweet and her Us Weekly statement, wanted to set the record straight for some time. She is also clearly being advised not to.
Is it arguably classy to not talk about it? Yes. But she added fuel to the gossip fire with that tweet all those months back. And the flames will likely be flamed until there’s a clear cut answer.
Until then, we’ll at least have the knee-high boots.