Audra McDonald says working on “The Good Fight” is like “playing tennis with one of the Williams sisters.” Cush Jumbo loves the courtroom scenes. Christine Baranski appreciates the humor woven into what is a generally dark season for Diane Lockhart and her cohorts.
Stars and producers of “Good Fight” gathered Monday night at New York’s the Wing for a screening of the season two opener followed by a Q&A about the new season of the show, which bows March 4 on CBS All Access.
Among the highlights from the conversation with Baranski, Jumbo, McDonald, co-star Sarah Steele, and executive producers Michelle King and Brooke Kennedy:
The impeachment of Trump, the spread of fake news and the infamous golden showers tape are among the topics that are tackled in season two. King, who is co-showrunner with her husband and producing partner Robert King, said the latitude they receive from CBS is tremendous. “We look at each other all the time and say ‘Can you believe they’re allowing us to do this?’ ” King said.
McDonald is a new addition to the cast this season, reprising the role of lawyer Liz Reddick-Lawrence that she played as a guest star in Season 4 of “Good Fight” predecessor “The Good Wife.” McDonald had known Baranski for years through theater and acting circles but never had the chance to work with her until the Kings made her an offer for “Good Fight.” She was also impressed by the Kings’ track record. “I could trust that was not going to be some stereotypical character,” McDonald said. “I knew she would be well-written and messy — the most exciting kind of character to play.”
Jumbo expressed her affection for the show’s signature courtroom scenes, which are elaborate productions that require a lot of preparation for actors and producers. “I love having court in my mouth,” Jumbo said. “I love all the legal language. I’m a wordy person.”
Diane Lockhart’s personal life takes more twists and turns in this season, with a little help from some recreational psychedelics. Baranski said that after playing the character for nearly a decade, the upcoming batch of “Good Fight” episodes are the “funniest and darkest ever.” As ever, Baranski appreciates the fullness of the character and the fact that the Kings never made an issue about her age or her willingness to take on authority. “It’s a given. It is assumed that women have power. It’s not ‘Is it my turn yet?’ “
Jumbo echoed Baranski’s praise for the quality of the storytelling steered by the Kings. Before “Good Fight,” Jumbo said she’d “never played a character who was not specified as black or biracial,” she said. In the past, “there was always somebody saying ‘Could you make the accent a little more urban?’ ” The formidable lawyer Lucca Quinn that Jumbo plays on the show sends a powerful message. “You have to see these things to be these things,” she said.
Kennedy and King emphasized the strength of the entire company in bringing the show to life. “It’s a good day when we’re all collaborating. We are the custodians of great material,” Kennedy said. King said the show is blessed with a cast that is well endowed with humor and smarts. “They can really sell a joke,” she said. “This is an extremely smart cast. That is not an everyday thing. When you get good notes from them, you’d be foolish not to listen.”
McDonald drew the analogy of playing a tennis match against Serena or Venus Williams to describe the process of working with her co-stars and the many guest stars that populate the show. She also hinted to King that she’s “looking for a musical episode” given the Broadway background of many of the series regulars.
Jumbo taught the intimate crowd a colorful expression for being pregnant in describing how nervous she was to tell the Kings that she was “up the duff” before production on season two began last year. As an actress, it’s ingrained in you that this is going to be a negative,” she said. The Kings calmed her fears with effusive congratulations followed by a request to write a pregnancy storyline for her character. “That’s confidence,” she said.