Julianna Margulies: Good Wife, Great Life

When she turned down $27 million to stay with ER, the world thought she was nuts. But after a rocky few years, Julianna Margulies now has a brilliant series, a family after 40 and a confidence she’s never known before 

by Johanna Schneller
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Photograph: Alexei Hay

What she didn’t expect was to fall in love. She and Lie­berthal met at a mutual friend’s dinner party and married soon after, in November 2007. “I thought everyone was full of shit about marriage until I met the right guy,” Margulies says. “I’m from divorce. I didn’t have a great example of marriage. My father paid alimony, but we didn’t have a lot. At 12, I wrote in a journal—I have it still—‘I will never depend on anyone for money.’ I always struggled with finding the right mate . . . It’s one of those things where if you live long enough with a man who has a cold, you’re going to catch the cold. Why would it be any different if you live with someone who’s angry all the time or depressed all the time?

“But Keith only adds to who I am,” she continues. “If he’s not in my life, the fun and enjoyment aren’t there . . . I’m not saying you’re not great alone. Listen, my mom lives alone; she loves it. She was a free spirit. She had many, many lovers. That was her path. But when you find that one [love], it’s like putting a spice in a great dish—suddenly everything’s enhanced. I didn’t know it could taste so good.”

Now what makes her happiest is to see “10 people sitting at my table, eating a meal I prepared.” Other nights, she and Lieberthal might join Baranski and her spouse for burgers and martinis or go out with Cumming and his husband. “Dancing is often involved,” Cumming says. “And show tunes.” Or Margulies and Lieberthal might invite friends to their country house. “We cooked a great pasta together there once,” Charles says.

She’s open to having another baby, but: “Ticktock, as they say. It’s not for lack of trying. But we always say, if it happens, great, and if not, great. There’s no pressure.”

Well, maybe a little pressure. One recent morning, Kie­ran walked Margulies to the elevator and said, “Mama, when you come home, bring me a brother or sister.” The memory makes her laugh. “I got in the car and told my driver, ‘Joe, I have a really tall order today.’"

Margulies wouldn’t be The Woman Who Has It All if she didn’t also have this: a genuine appreciation for how lucky she is. If she says “I’m grateful” once, she says it 20 times. “I’m such a different person now than I was in my twenties,” she says. “I had all these insecurities—about doing the right thing, about how people would perceive me. It stopped me from having fun, where now I feel comfortable with who I am, no matter who’s in the room. I go out and have a good time. Now this is me, take it or leave it.”

On her 30th birthday, her mother told her, “Honey, if I only knew how young I was at 60,” and Margulies tries to remember that. “When you look in the mirror and see one more line, do you say, Oh God, or do you say, Wow, I’ve lived? That’s the choice you have,” she says. “I’m not going to blank out my face. I want people to know what I’m feeling. But I eat well, I work out, I don’t go in the sun. I try to maintain what I have with dignity. Every now and then I’ll see a rerun of ER and think, Oh my God, what happened to my face!”

She needn’t worry—her looks remain so striking that Margulies was signed to be the face of L’Oréal’s RevitaLift skin-care line. But she has a clear, persuasive way of seeing her path from ER to the present: “I wouldn’t be who I am today if I were back there. That’s the beauty of growing up. I feel like everything has fallen into place, so I feel younger than I did in my thirties. I’m in better shape. I have a better understanding of the world. I feel more free. And psychically, the mind relaxes if you let it.”

First published in the April 2012 issue of More

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Juliana says, "I'm not going to blank out my face...". She doesn't need to. More Magazine does it for her. As usual, Photoshop overkill.

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