Town & Country Magazine Interview

TOWN & COUNTRY — If television is to be believed, Chicago’s law firms are some of the most dramatic places on the planet. Take, for example, the burgeoning legal career of Maia Rindell, played here by Game of Thrones alum Rose Leslie. She’s barely begun her post as a newbie at Lockhart, Decker, Gussman, Lee, Lyman, Gilbert-Lurie, Kagan, Tannebaum & Associates when her life explodes—something about a billionaire father turning out to be a fraud can do that—and a chain of events is set in motion that will drive the first season of The Good Fight, the new series airing now on CBS All Access.

If the name of the series alone didn’t tip you off, the show is a sequel of sorts to The Good Wife, which ended its celebrated run last year. Fight was also created by Robert and Michelle King, and follows some of Wife’s characters (namely the brilliant Christine Baranski as Diane Lockhart and Cush Jumbo as Lucca Quinn) as they continue to navigate the Windy City’s turbulent legal scene. It’s Scottish-born Leslie, however, who’s at the heart of the show, and here the actress chats with T&C about what made it a part she couldn’t turn down.

In the very first episode of this series, Maia’s life is almost completely turned around. She’s gone from anonymous legal associate to being attacked in elevators by strangers her father might have bilked out of their savings. I can’t imagine it’s every day you find a part this complex.
The fact that Maya is almost unjustly targeted was a hook for me. We watch this young woman fight–in her personal and professional life—and I love that she’s someone whose career is about to take off when the rug is pulled out from under her. I wanted to explore someone so resilient, who people can root for through such an awful event.

You’ve previously been on series like Downton Abbey and Game of Thrones. What made you go looking for something like The Good Fight?
I feel incredibly privileged to give you this response: I was offered the part. The Kings got in touch and asked me to read the pilot. So, I did that and the how was written so brilliantly that I immediately responded to the character.

The series is fictional, but some of the events do have that pulled-from-the-headlines feeling. Did you take any inspiration from real-life situations of the same ilk?
Before I started, I read Stephanie Madoff Mack’s memoir, The End of Normal. Reading that book was heartrending, as a human being learning about the way someone else’s life has been flipped upside down. That was something that allowed me to almost get an understanding of just how appalling it must have been to be in her situation. You can really only imagine; it’s catastrophic.

Again, this all happens in the first episode! What does the rest of the first season hold for Maia?
What’s within Maia is an innate desire to prove her worth, to show to everyone that she can handle everything that’s thrown her way. But there’s also the realization that her father might not be as innocent as she wants to believe. You really see her mindset develop.

The series certainly stands on its own, but there are winks to anyone who watched The Good Wife. How did you feel about joining that world, which already has such a history?
I did watch The Good Wife, and when I started having conversations about this series, I knew it would be similar—there’s still « good » in the title—but I chose it for the writing and because of the talent that’s attached. Christine Baranski and Cush Jumbo are so fantastic! So, being able to carry on some of that story was something I was thrilled to be a part of.

The show takes place in Chicago, but you’ve been filming in New York. How’s that been for a Londoner?
We’ve been in New York since October and have about a month left. It’s been treating me incredibly well! I’m living in Brooklyn and have such an affinity for this city. I’ve never been in New York for longer than a week at any one time, so the idea of coming for a five-month stint was such a pull, and it’s been everything I hoped it would be.

So, you get to go home in a month! How will you spend the time off?
I’m thinking of parking myself in my favorite pub and holding court. I’ll tell people I’ll be there for about six days and they can all stop by. (source)

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