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Julianna Margulies also reveals her thoughts on Alicia's evolution

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March 08, 2015 04:30 PM

As The Good Wife continues to take risks and change the game in its sixth season with Alicia Forrick’s campaign for State’s Attorney, Julianna Margulies is loving watching her character come into her own, something the actress herself feels she achieved in her own life.

Before a packed crowd Hollywood’s Dolby Theater for a panel celebrating the acclaimed series at PaleyFest on Saturday, Margulies, 48, looked back on her own personal journey since her show business career caught fire when she joined the cast of ER in 1994.

“I started ER when I was 26 years old and I did that show for six great years, and it was an awesome, incredible journey for me, growing up, in a way, in this industry,” she explained.

“When I left ER I went off and did movies here and there, and theater. and got married and had a baby and came and came back to this show as a woman. I felt very secure in the world and kind of at peace with myself. I wasn’t sort of wondering where my place was.”

That solid foundation allowed her, when The Good Wife offer came her way, to request a shift in locale and production to New York City where Margulies had made her home with husband, attorney Keith Lieberthal, and son Kieran.

“I said to [The Good Wife creators] Robert and Michelle [King] ‘I love your show. Bring it to New York because I’m not leaving. I have a life here. This is where my home is. This is where my child is going to be raised. My husband is here.’ So strangely I felt more able to take risks now than I did then, because then I was always afraid of what people thought. And now I feel secure in myself, so I just want to make the work what I think it should be, and if you like it, you like it and if you don’t, you don’t. But I feel like I own it more It’s a beautiful time in my life.”

Prior to the panel Margulies told PEOPLE on the red carpet that she’s been especially gratified to see the show have such a significant cultural impact, especially in regards to the depiction of women.

“I’m incredible grateful,” said the actress, a two-time Emmy winner in the role. “I think it s such a great time for women right now – I’m hoping, anyway – in that our voices seem to be louder and our direction seems to be stronger. And so if a character that I get to play on TV has any bearing on any of that, I’m beyond flattered.”

Alicia’s Election and Kalinda’s Exit

Margulies promises that the outcome of Alicia’s election campaign is imminent.

“It s going to run its course for the next few [episodes],” she says. “You will see it resolve itself by the end of the season, for sure.”

The actress reveals that Alicia’s bid for office pumped new energy into the character’s journey. “To see her reacting with other people, because she only ever reacts with one group it s been great to bring her out,” she explains.

“When she goes back to her group – to the Dianes and the Carys, and the David Lees of the world – she s a different person, so now they re treating her differently. It s great in that it shakes up the norm and it allows us to venture out just to come back in, in a way that keeps the characters fresh and alive.”

Executive producer Robert King warns that, even in victory, Alicia may be profoundly changed by the experience. “Alicia spends so much time raising a family and not facing some of these decisions,” he says. “Now, she s kind of a little bit like a novice and keeps facing these Walter White decisions of her own personal Breaking Bad, which is happening in gradual little bits. And each time it creates its own dilemma of ‘Do I go to that next step?’ And it s difficult when all her advisors are saying ‘Yes! Go, go, go to that next step!'”

From left: Julianna Margulies and Christine Baranski
Frazer Harrison/Getty

Meanwhile, the show’s cast and creators are preparing themselves for the departure of a key cast member, with Archie Punjabi exiting her role as private investigator Kalinda Sharma at season’s end but don’t expect Kalinda’s end to be a fatal one.

“She can t go out Will Gardner-style because you guys know that she s leaving,” Robert King tells PEOPLE, alluding to last season’s jaw-dropping, no-one-saw-it-coming death of Josh Charles’ character. “Will Gardner-style was that no one knew, so that could be a shock. Since everybody expects, it’s a whole different beast.”

Matt Czuchry – whose character Cary has been long intertwined with Punjabi’s Kalinda, romantically and otherwise – says he’s been bracing himself for their final scenes together.

“I hate that feeling because she’s a great person, she’s a great actress and she’s an iconic character on that show,” he says. “And to think that I have some last scenes with her, I’m definitely going to treasure them. But it also makes me very sad.”

The producers say that come season seven, the hole left by Kalinda will be filled but in a way very different from the show’s status quo. “It s not like you re going to swap somebody else in who could take Kalinda s place,” says Michelle King.

More Guest Stars

The show’s knack for snagging top-flight guest stars continues throughout the season: Michael J. Fox returns in tonight’s episode along with some other surprise familiar faces in a storyline that plays out largely within Alicia’s imagination; Oliver Platt has a three-episode stint as a Republican billionaire seeking to recruit Diane (Christine Baranski) for a think tank, while Ron Rifkin appears in an as-yet-undisclosed role; Ed Asner will be back as the vile campaign donor Gus Redmayne, as will Renee Elise Goldsberry as Geneva Pine.

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