Erica Tazel on Moving From ‘Justified’ to ‘The Good Fight’ and Her Love of Christine Baranski

Erica Tazel Variety Facetime
Annie Tritt for Variety

After earning her MFA from New York University and playing at the New York Shakespeare Festival, Erica Tazel made a splash in TV in a number of roles before becoming a series regular on “Justified” in 2010. After that, she portrayed Matilda in the 2016 remake of the miniseries “Roots.” Now she plays the founder of a law firm, alongside Delroy Lindo, who hires down-on-her-luck Diane Lockhart (Christine Baranski) in the CBS All Access series “The Good Fight,” which picks up a year after the final episode of “The Good Wife.”

What was it like going from “Justified” to “The Good Fight”?
On “Justified,” Rachel was in a very male-dominated world, which meant she had to be very strong and outspoken. With “The Good Fight,” I’m now in a position of power.

Were you a fan of “The Good Wife”?
I was a huge fan, and I’m in the Christine Baranski fan club. I went through the audition process and within a week of getting the call, I had an offer and had four days to relocate to New York. It was crazy, nerve-wracking, and exciting at the same time. It’s mostly the same crew from “The Good Wife,” with a few of the same cast members and guest stars. It’s been lovely to be welcomed into a group of people that have essentially been together for seven years.

What was your favorite part about “Roots”?
They were giving me the opportunity to play a character from 17 to 54, and I had never done that before.

How do you improve on something that was so genius to begin with? What can you add to these characters?
Olivia Cole played Matilda [in the original]. I absolutely adored her, and those were extremely big shoes to fill. But going into it, I had to let things go, and look into the story of this Matilda, and do everything that I could possibly to give her voice — to give her life. She’s a lovely woman with amazing strength….

Did you know that you wanted to make the transition from theater to television?
I knew it was something I wanted to explore. When I look at women like Meryl Streep, Sophie Okonedo, Naomie Harris, Cate Blanchett — those are the careers that have longevity. But I was curious just as an artist to see if I could be successful in both mediums. Theater is where I’m trained, and those doors will hopefully continue to be open for me as I explore television options. I’m on my second series. I’m knocking on the door of independence, and hoping to find the same fulfillment, joy, and possibility of roles there.

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