Famous for her Emmy-winning performance in ER, from which she became a household name, as well as her Golden Globe-winning role in The Good Wife, Julianna Margulies continues her reign as television’s strongest leading lady in AMC’s new satirical drama, Dietland. Margulies plays Kitty Montgomery, a cutthroat magazine executive who resorts to unethical means to keep up with the news cycle. Although she frequently portrays roles of complex, dark women, Margulies lives a quiet life in Manhattan with her husband, attorney Keith Lieberthal, and her 11-year-old son, Kieran. Julianna chats to MiNDFOOD about her career, beauty, and the key to happiness.
What do you like about your character?
Well, I like that she’s just completely oblivious to her narcissism. So that’s so fun to play. What I don’t like about her is that she’s completely oblivious to her narcissism. She just doesn’t think of anyone but herself.
What inspired you to jump onboard this show?
The reason I took the job was that I love how it showed how a fat person sees the world and how the world sees them. And it’s important to know that it really, I know it sounds corny, but it really, truly is what’s inside. There’s a lot of skinny, horrible, ugly people that on the outside appear gorgeous, but you wouldn’t want to be in their shoes. And there’s some incredibly genuine, wonderful, but at the same token, heavy people. It shouldn’t matter. What should matter is what is coming from your heart.
Do you relate to the show?
When you decide to become an actor, you are judged how you look, and that is what I love about this show. This girl thinks that she is going to find happiness once she gets her surgery and becomes a size six. [This show is] her journey of realisation that that isn’t actually happiness.
How do you stay in shape?
Everything in moderation, then I feel that you can enjoy your life. I think people who starve themselves end up binging and people who binge end up feeling awful. I know it’s hard because there is a true disorder in eating. So just balance it out. I think that’s the key to happiness.
Have you found your happiness?
I have. I really have.
When do you feel most beautiful?
Well, I feel good when I can just lay in my bed, not necessarily when anyone is looking at me. I think I feel most beautiful when I am happy, when I am truly happy.
Have you always felt that way?
I guess getting older really helps. I don’t care what other people think of me. When I am with my family and my friends, they know who I am and that is when I feel the most beautiful because I know that they love me for who I am.
What about getting glammed up?
It definitely helps to have a hair and makeup team to fluff you up for a press event, like today, and you go, “Oh wow, I haven’t looked like that in awhile!” But it’s just smoke and mirrors and it’s not reality. Reality for me is when I feel most comfortable in my skin.
Do you think there is a shift in consciousness with how we judge each other?
It’s what you are seeing now in the #MeToo movement. It’s not acceptable anymore to be at work and have a man walk by and pinch your ass without it being invited. So I think in the same way the consciousness is becoming more alert to what’s acceptable and what’s not acceptable.
Is it human nature to judge?
Human nature is human nature. I am always amazed at how human beings are so much crueller to each other than animals would ever be. It’s a remarkable thing to watch, especially in our society right now. I won’t mention names. I always feel bad for really judgmental people, because I think they must be incredibly lonely.
What else does this show touch on?
I think there is a movement happening all over the world and it’s not to put men down at all, I love men, I love good men. But it’s this idea of, ‘What is the abuse of power?’ And it’s not just about a diet or feeling good about yourself, it’s about the abuse of power and where people take that to, and what power does to people.
As an actor, where is the fine line between narcissism and a healthy ego?
I think every actor has the choice, this is what I say, unless you have cured AIDS, Cancer and world peace and hunger, you have no right to be an asshole. And when I see actors behaving in a certain way that is just narcissistic, it’s painful to watch because you don’t want everyone to lump you into one group.
What magazines influenced you when you were growing up?
You know, I didn’t really grow up reading magazines to be honest with you. I knew about them because my stepmother was a stylist and worked with Bert Stern, so she always talked about Vogue. When I was growing up, it was all about Vogue and fashion and it wasn’t so much about advice columns and letter writing and things like that. And my mother would never let me buy a teen magazine, she just thought they were junk.
What’s the best advice you’ve received?
As you get older all these snippets of wisdom your parents impart on you and you rolled your eyes at – one day you go, “Oh, brilliant!” My mum, one of the best things she ever said to me was, “You are exactly where you are supposed to be, just be in it, and just be in it and stop wishing you were somewhere else.” and she was right. And everything followed.