Julianna Margulies played nurse Carol Hathaway on the successful ER series. The actress took on impressive roles throughout her career and the decision to pursue her passions paid off. However, it would not come easily.
In 1991, Julianna found her passion in acting and attended acting classes. There, she met aspiring actor Ron Eldard, and the two began dating. Their young love turned into a lengthy relationship. Despite their commitment to one another, Margulies had no intention of tying the knot, and they later split in 2003.
Julianna’s character in ER was intended to be killed of in the first episode of the show. However, when producers noticed how popular she was with fans, they decided to keep her on the show. 132 episodes and a number of award nods, they made the right decision.
Although Margulies was born in New York, she lived in a number of places during her childhood. Due to living between New York, England and France, Margulies was considered American when in the U.K., and British when in New York. This led her to feeling out of place for much of her life and she only found her true identity when attending college at Sarah Lawrence. Through immersing herself in acting, Julianna found her passion and a comfort in the performing arts.
In a turn of events, six days after getting engaged to Lieberthal, the couple discovered that Julianna was pregnant with their first child. She explained “It was a total surprise, but I said, ‘Okay, I guess we’ll roll with it.'” However, Keith had other ideas and felt they should be married before welcoming their child, leading the couple to tie the knot in 2007 in Lenox, Massachusetts. Margulies was seven months pregnant when walking down the aisle, wearing a beautiful, flowing gown by Narciso Rodriguez.
Do Not Disturb
Being in the hugely successful ER, Juliana was on a tight schedule for learning her lines and filming the TV show for many months in the year. As a result, she developed a specific routine in learning her lines, placing a ‘do not disturb’ sign on her door, lying down on the couch and rehearsing her lines over and over again for the following day. The technique has evidently been rewarding for the long-standing cast member.
As a friend and co-star, Julianna went to George Clooney to ask for advice when asked to tell a funny story on The Tonight Show. Clooney obliged and gave Margulies an anecdote that apparently happened to his mother. Although it seemed genuine, Clooney didn’t tell Julianna that he gave the same line to ex-girlfriend Kelly Preston on the same show. Eight years later, Clooney finally revealed his prank and had the two stories cut together, but later decided against airing it.
Turning Down Blockbusters
Julianna’s popular role in ER led her profile to be raised significantly, catching the attention of movie producers. The young actress was offered the role of Sasha Hassler in the box office hit Face/Off, starring Nicolas Cage and John Travolta, but was forced to turn it down as the schedule conflicted with the filming of ER. Instead, the coveted role went to Gina Gershon and Julianna was left reeling from the fact she was obligated to turn the role down.
No Kids In The Cards
Throughout Julianna’s life, she always appeared as a career-driven woman, putting her job before her personal life. Her 12-year relationship with Ron Eldard produced no marriage and no children, leading many to question if it was something that Margulies saw in her future. In response to the questions, the actress bluntly stated, “I was never much of a kid person, I mean, I thought they were cute to look at, but I didn’t want them in my house.”
Outstanding Actress On ER
Julianna’s role on ER as Carol Hathaway was not only recognized by fans. She was widely praised by critics and she became the only cast member on the drama to win an Emmy award for her performance. In addition to the many nominations she received for her role on the show, she was awarded back to back Screen Actors Guild Awards for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series in the years 1998 and 1999.
When many people said Julianna’s decision to leave ER was career suicide, the actress took a more level headed approach. She noted, “I’m a smart girl, I had a year’s worth of work waiting and a mortgage completely paid at age 32. “My dad said, ‘If you got hit by a bus tomorrow, were you living your life truthfully, or were you waiting to get rich?’ Those are the things I wanted to do.” She wasted no time after leaving the show to do exactly that.
Put Off Marriage
Julianna’s parents were divorced when she was a young girl, and the splitting up of her family put the actress off settling down and having children of her own. Margulies didn’t want to put any of her future children through the difficult experience she went through so held off. She later decided that if she were to have children, she would wait until she had found the one and make the commitment to get married.
Hitting The Stage
Immediately following Julianna’s departure from ER, she followed her dreams and appeared on stage at the MCC Theater in a production of Kate Robin’s Intrigue With Faye, a Lincoln Center production of Jon Robin Baitz’s Ten Unknowns. In addition, her work on screen extended to appearing in Evelyn alongside Piers Brosnan and also Ghost Ship in 2002 with Gabriel Byrne and Ron Eldard. Later that year in 2002, Julianna branched out in working on the documentary film Searching for Debra Winger.
The Buddhist Influence
Julianna’s decision to forgo her $27 million paycheck and leave ER was triggered by reading a book on Buddhism. While the decision was an incredibly difficult one, as the show propelled her to success, she found comfort and reassurance when reading a book on the liberating, ancient Asian religion. She recalled how she closed her eyes when reading the book, placed her finger on a page and opened it. In front of her were the words “Learn more, not earn more.”
An Unexpected Encounter
Around 2005 when Julianna was “contently single,” she attended a friend’s birthday in Soho where she met Keith Lieberthal. The two clicked straight away and she turned to Lieberthal and said, “If you’re looking for the marrying type, it’s not gonna be me.” Nevertheless, a year and a half later Lieberthal got down on one knee on a romantic trip to Paris. Being with Keith led Margulies to abandon her skepticism about marriage and she agreed to marry him.
Strictly No Actors
Ironically, Julianna had a strict rule that she did not want to date actors due to the stigma that stuck with them. She believed that if she dated someone who was in the business they could never be serious so always wanted someone of a different profession. Initially, when meeting Lieberthal, Margulies thought he was an actor and turned down his advances. However, her future husband reassured her that he had nothing to do with acting and he was actually a lawyer.
Seven Minute Success
In the pilot of ER, Margulies was given just seven minutes of screen time but she counts those moments as a turning point in her career. Director Michael Crichton and executive producer Steven Spielberg watched Carol Hathaway’s dying scene in the pilot, as seen through the eyes of on screen boyfriend Doug Ross, played by George Clooney. They decided in that moment that they wanted her in a starring role for the whole series, becoming a defining moment for Julianna.
Julianna had always taken pride in her home and designed her New York apartment with the latest styles and trends. The beautiful apartment caught the eye of interior designers and it was later featured in a prestigious home magazine. Shortly after it was featured in the magazine, Julianna went on a ski trip with family and friends but upon returning home, she found that her perfect apartment had been wrecked by a flood caused by her upstairs neighbor.
In 2008, Margulies starred in and produced Fox mid-season replacement show, Canterbury’s Law. Julianna played Elizabeth Canterbury, a lawyer described as a “tough-minded defense attorney who isn’t afraid to push boundaries in order to protect innocent clients.” Unfortunately, the show was hit by the 2007-2008 Writers Guild of America strike and was cancelled by the network after six episodes. However, this was not Margulies’ last stint playing a lawyer on screen, and the series gave her invaluable experience for future endeavors.
Julianna was born to two Jewish parents, descending from immigrants originating from Romania, Austria, Hungary, and Russia. However, when Margulies’ mother converted to Christianity when Julianna was young, the faith in her home adapted too. Nevertheless, Margulies still considers herself Jewish and married within the faith too. Despite saying how much she enjoyed embracing the Sabbath with her family and spending time with family, she said, “I would say if I had a religion, it would be gratitude.”
Never Leaving TV
Julianna recalled when she left ER, many speculated whether she would ever return to TV. However, she shot down any talk of her throwing in the towel by stating, “I’ll always do television—television celebrates women. It’s where the best, richest roles for women are, period.” Margulies had built a name for herself, being one of the most respected women in television and she had no intention of giving it up just because she left the show that made her.
In 2015, Julianna was featured as one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World” by TIME magazine. The accolade was given due to her work with Erin’s Law, a non-profit social welfare organization, founded by Erin Merryn, a childhood assault survivor. The law aims to introduce the requirement that all public schools implement a prevention-orientation child abuse program. Julianna’s tireless work on the project resulted in a huge win for the non-profit, passing Erin’s Law in all 50 states in the United States.
In 2009, Julianna began starring in the CBS legal drama The Good Wife. Margulies played Alicia Florrick, an attorney returning to legal practice after her husband resigned as Illinois State’s Attorney following corruption scandals. When Julianna was first given the script for the pilot, she knew she had struck gold and it would revive her career from the ER days. However, Julianna had one requirement for signing onto the series, she wanted it to be shot in New York. The team wanted her so badly that they agreed.
Throughout Julianna’s career she has been hit with allegations that she had undergone a number of plastic surgeries. However, the actress vehemently denied all the rumors and said that she welcomes aging and wants to be able to show her facial expressions. Margulies confessed, “There is so much pressure to look young, but it sure beats the alternative.” She finally added,”If I wasn’t aging, I wouldn’t be living. You have to embrace it. Hopefully, I will age. What are my other choices?”
In between her leading TV roles, Margulies took on a number of cameos in popular TV shows. Julianna guest starred in two episodes of Scrubs, four episodes of The Sopranos as well as miniseries The Grid on TNT, as well as Syfy Channel’s The Lost Room. During this time, Julianna wasn’t finding any TV series roles that she was inspired or excited by so settled for smaller appearances until something great came along. Many began to question if her career was dwindling down.
You’re Worth It!
In 2010, Julianna won a lucrative contract with L’Oreal Paris, becoming the new face of their anti-aging line, RevitaLift. Becoming a L’Oreal spokeswoman was something of an honor and Julianna joined the likes of Jane Fonda, Andi Macdowell, and Julianne Moore. Margulies said of her excitement to join the brand, “I remember the first time I heard [the tagline “Because You’re Worth It].” I was young, and I said to myself, ‘When I have money, I will buy beautiful products and feel I’m worth it.'”
No Looking Back
There was talk about a potential return to ER for Margulies and she later admitted she was close to accepting the offer in the 2005/2006 season. The shoot was set to take place in Hawaii and Margulies was about to sign the contract but backed out last minute. In addition, Julianna was invited back to appear in the last season but she initially turned down the offer, explaining she felt she left in the perfect way and couldn’t imagine a better departure but she later retracted.
On numerous occasions Margulies had insisted that she was not a movie star and had no intention or expectation to go into feature films. However, in 2006 she was given the opportunity to play flight attendant Claire Miller in action thriller Snakes On A Plane. Ironically, Margulies’ character in the movie was on her final flight before quitting to become a lawyer. Three years later, Julianna started her run as a lawyer in award-winning series The Good Wife.
Turning Down Roles
Recently, Julianna admitted that she turned down an offer to appear in a spin off for The Good Wife, The Good Fight. Margulies said of her decision to turn down the opportunity: “The reason I declined was because I thought it would be a disservice to those women, and they will carry that torch.” In addition, it was reported that Julianna wanted to get back to focusing on her private life with her husband and her son, Kieran.
Playing Mom And Actress
Margulies admitted that although she recognized how privileged she is, it can be difficult juggling a family life and long hours on film shoots. However, the actress credits her husband for all the help he has given her along the way, explaining “I married a rock, who understands what I do without any resentment. And I’ve got a joyful, easy kid.” She finally added, “It’s hard, I’m always torn between responsibilities, but I am living my dream.”
Fighting For Equality
Julianna has recently found a passion and commitment to bringing awareness to important causes, using her voice in the public eye to shed light on prevalent issues in society. One of which is equality for all and Julianna noted, “There is a generation coming up that understands equal rights. People fight for what they believe in – equal pay, gay rights, all of these things that should have happened years ago. [But] we have a long way to go.”