David M. Russell/CBS
April 29, 2016 02:20 PM

Graham Phillips spent the better part of seven years playing Zach, the son of Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies) on The Good Wife, and during that time he developed a close mother-son dynamic with Margulies.

“Having Julianna as my fake mother for the last seven years was great,” Phillips told PEOPLE at Thursday’s The Good Wife‘s series finale party at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. “She really was very maternal to me these last seven years.”

Graham Phillips
D Dipasupil/FilmMagic

In fact, Margulies was “instrumental” in convincing the young actor to attend college.

“She went to Sarah Lawrence, and her argument was that your acting will always be best served when you have more in your arsenal,” said Phillips, who matriculated to Princeton University in 2012 and is now a senior majoring in history. “The more you know, the easier it is to understand people and to be more empathetic. So, I don’t regret the decision at all.”

Graham Phillips and Julianna Margulies (as Zach and Alicia Florrick) on The Good Wife
David M. Russell/CBS via Getty

Phillips, 23, wants to pursue directing and realizes that end will better served by staying in school and learning as much as he can. He and his brother recently completed a screenplay, and he’s already making a list of people he wants to be in it.

“I’m sure I’ll be going to members of the cast for roles in that,” he said, “so I’ll be calling in a lot of favors from the cast and crew.”

The Good Wife airs Sundays (9 p.m. ET) on CBS through May 8.

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