After several small television roles, Margulies achieved both critical and commercial success in her role as Nurse Carol Hathaway on NBC's long-running medical drama ER, for which she won an Emmy Award. After her departure from ER in 2000, Margulies appeared in the 2001 miniseries The Mists of Avalon and voiced the role of Neera in Disney's CGI film Dinosaur. In 2009 she took the lead role of Alicia Florrick in the American legal drama The Good Wife on CBS, for which she has won a Golden Globe, a Television Critics Association Award and the 2011Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series.
She is tied with Alec Baldwin at winning the most Screen Actor Guild Awards, having won a total of eight.
Margulies, the youngest of three daughters, was born in Spring Valley, New York. Her mother, Francesca (born Gardner), was a ballet dancer and eurythmy teacher, and her father, Paul Margulies, was a writer. Her parents were Jewish, descended from immigrants from Austria, Hungary, and Romania (her mother later converted to Christianity, during Margulies's childhood). The family lived in Israel for a time before Margulies was born, before moving back to the Upper West Side of New York City.
Margulies attended grade school at Green Meadow Waldorf School and high school at High Mowing School. As a child, she lived in New York, France and England. Margulies obtained a BA from Sarah Lawrence College, where she appeared in several campus plays. In 1988–89 she studied acting in the Meisner Technique class at The Acting Studio, Inc. – New York.
Margulies's first acting role was as a prostitute looking to go straight in Steven Seagal's film Out for Justice. In 1994, Margulies was cast in a role in the pilot episode of ER as an emergency care nurse who, despondent over her relationship with George Clooney's character, Doug Ross, attempted suicide. Her character was originally intended to die; however, the producers changed the plot and she went on to play the role of Nurse Carol Hathaway for six years. She won an Emmy Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Television Drama in 1994, and was nominated for this award every year during her tenure. She is also notable for being the only series regular cast member to win an Emmy Award.
Following her departure from ER, Margulies worked on stage and screen. On stage she appeared in a MCC Theater production of Kate Robin's Intrigue With Faye, a Lincoln Center production of Jon Robin Baitz's Ten Unknowns, and The Vagina Monologues. Her film work after ER included Evelyn with Pierce Brosnan and Ghost Ship with Gabriel Byrne and Ron Eldard. She starred as the protagonist and narrator (Morgaine) in the 2001 TNT miniseries The Mists of Avalonand participated in the 2002 documentary film Searching for Debra Winger. In 2004, she guest-starred in a two-episode arc in season 4 of the hit TV show Scrubs as Neena Broderick, an unscrupulous lawyer who sues Turk and has a brief sexual relationship with J.D. She starred in another miniseries on TNT, The Grid, in 2004. In April 2006, she appeared in four episodes of the sixth season of The Sopranos, portraying realtor Julianna Skiff. In August 2006, she appeared in Snakes on a Plane as flight attendant Claire Miller. In December 2006, she played Jennifer Bloom in the Sci Fi Channel miniseries The Lost Room.Margulies and Lieberthal at the Metropolitan Opera in 2008
In an August 2006 interview with tvguide.com, Margulies said that she was close to accepting an offer to return to ER for a four-episode arc with Noah Wyle that filmed in Hawaii during the 2005–2006 season. However, she decided against it at the last minute. Margulies was again invited to return during ER's final season, but the actress initially turned down the offer, saying that she felt like she left Carol Hathaway in the perfect place and could not imagine bettering her departure episode. Later, however, Margulies did return to ER for one episode during its 15th and final season.
She had a minor role in 2007's The Darwin Awards. In 2008, Margulies starred in the legal series Canterbury's Law, a Fox mid-season replacement show. She played the title character, Elizabeth Canterbury, a lawyer described as "a tough-minded defense attorney who isn't afraid to push boundaries in order to protect innocent clients." She was also credited as a producer of the show. The series was severely impacted by the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike and cancelled after six episodes.
In 2009, Margulies began starring in the CBS legal drama The Good Wife. She plays Alicia Florrick an attorney returning to legal practice after her husband Peter Florrick (played by Chris Noth) resigned as Illinois State's Attorney amidst a sex and corruption scandal. On October 7, 2009, CBS gave the series a full-season pickup, extending the first season from thirteen to twenty-two episodes.
In 2009, she received a NYWIFT Muse Award celebrating the achievements of women who work in film and television. On January 17, 2010, Margulies won a Golden Globe award for her role in The Good Wife. On January 23, Margulies won her record third Screen Actors Guild award for a role. Also that year, Margulies was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress – Drama Series, her seventh Emmy nomination, losing to The Closer's Kyra Sedgwick. On January 30, 2011, she won another Screen Actors Guild award for her role, while The Good Wife was once again nominated for best ensemble in a drama show, but lost to Boardwalk Empire. On July 14, 2011, Margulies was nominated for a second Emmy for Best Actress in a Dramatic Series; at the Emmy ceremony on September 18, 2011, she won the award.
In 2011, by the third season, she has been listed as a producer of the show.
Margulies and attorney Keith Lieberthal were married on November 10, 2007, in Lenox, Massachusetts. Their son, Kieran Lindsay Lieberthal, was born on January 17, 2008. Margulies's in-laws are Jane Lindsay and the academic Kenneth Lieberthal.
|1991||Out for Justice||Rica|
|1997||Paradise Road||Topsy Merritt|
|1998||The Newton Boys||Louise Brown|
|1998||A Price Above Rubies||Rachel|
|2002||The Man from Elysian Fields||Dena|
|2002||Ghost Ship||Maureen Epps|
|2006||The Darwin Awards||Carla|
|2006||Snakes on a Plane||Claire Miller|
|2006||Beautiful Ohio||Mrs. Cubano|
|2009||City Island||Joyce Rizzo|
|2011||"No Job for a Woman": The Women Who Fought to Report WWII||Narrator|
|2013||Stand Up Guys||Nina Hirsch|