How they got their start: Christine Baranski

By: Start TV Staff     Posted: February 26, 2019, 1:37PM

Image: CBS

One of TV's favorite recurring faces, Christine Baranski has received more than a dozen Emmy nominations since winning her first award in 1995, winning for Cybill, and nominated for shows like The Big Bang Theory and The Good Wife. It was her character, though, on The Good Wife that led to her current starring role on the acclaimed spin-off The Good Fight.

Of course, big Christine Baranski fans know her since her Broadways days, when she was winning Tony Awards in the late 1980s for The Real Thing and Rumors. The actress has always divided her time between TV, movies and the stage, since graduating from the Juilliard School in the mid-70s and launching her acting career in 1980.

That was the year that Baranski made both her Broadway and TV debut. On TV, it was for a TV movie called Playing for Time, a 4-time-Emmy-winning film written by Arthur Miller and based on the true story of French pianist Fania Fénelo. It's about female Auschwitz prisoners who perform music to entertain the Nazis to delay their own impending deaths. It's a stark picture in which Baranski played one of the prisoners, Olga, alongside Vanessa Redgrave, just after she snagged her Oscar.

Through the 1980s, Baranski took bit parts in movies, sharing the screen with Molly Ringwald (The Pick-Up Artist) and Donald Sutherland (Crackers), and the roles kept getting bigger and bigger into the 1990s with movies like Addams Family Values, The Ref, The Birdcage and Cruel Intentions. On TV, we saw her on episodes of Law & Order and 3rd Rock from the Sun, but primarily she was focused on her work on Cybill, where she played Cybill Shepherd's best friend Maryann Thorpe. To every character, Baranski brought her fierce brand that melds high comedy with high drama and creates the distinct presence that's helped her steal scene after scene.

The Good Wife is no exception, and it's extra fun to go back and watch Baranski bring the character of Diane Lockhart to life, following along through the ups and downs of a committed law firm partner and lifelong liberal, who we all watched struggle to prove that yes, indeed, "opposites attract." Perhaps this meatiest role was what Baranski was waiting for to finally find the spotlight on The Good Fight.

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