Season 3 of The Good Fight opens with two very surprising words: “I’m happy.” Diane Lockhart (Christine Baranski) utters those words in the season premiere, as she’s lying in bed with her husband Kurt (Gary Cole). This is the same Diane Lockhart who almost lost her mind last season as she tried to cope — using LSD and Aikido — with the surreality of life in the Trump era. In season 3, though, Diane is happy: She and Kurt are living together as husband and wife for the first time, and she’s channeling her anti-Trump energy into working with an organized resistance movement. But Baranksi tells EW that Good Fight viewers should not get used to seeing Diane in such a contented space.
“Let me just say this: All these shows and movies and plays are not written about people who are consistently happy, or there’d be nothing to watch,” says the actress. “No sooner are people happy than the writers will make sure that something happens, and then you’re dealing with conflict.” That conflict takes many forms in season 3 of the transcendently brilliant CBS All Access drama: Diane and Kurt’s marriage will be tested when he takes a job that she finds deeply troubling, while the arrival of a corrupt, Roy Cohn-like lawyer (played by Michael Sheen) will have Diane “ringing alarm bells” all through the halls of Reddick, Boseman &Lockhart. EW sat down with Lockhart to debrief her on what fresh hell Diane and her colleagues will face this season.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What is Diane like as a happily married woman?
CHRISTINE BARANSKI: Oh, you know, it’s just been such a great relationship, the way it’s written and the way it has evolved with my great feeling for Gary Cole as an actor. I think someone who’s gone through as much as Diane has, he just balances her out and I think she’s happy. That genuine happiness that can come later in life where you think, “Oh my gosh, this is really possible to have a companion and a soulmate.” I happen to think it’s just one of the most adult relationships on television.
Showrunners Robert and Michelle King said that this season, the show will explore whether Diane can really let herself be happy. Is she looking for some reason to be unhappy?
Oh, I don’t know — the season starts in an interesting way. I mean, the first words of the season are “I’m happy,” those two words. In bed, with this delicious man. Obviously, it’s a post-coital bliss and all is forgiven, and the next thing you know, she’s [thinking], “What is this? What is this [blonde hair] I’m finding on his jacket?”
The show will tackle racial tensions at the firm this season, and the idea that “good liberals” can still have biases. What can you tease about that?
We’re just reexamining, to our amazement, how prejudicial we are, how ingrained it is in our culture. Even the most seemingly enlightened liberal people can stand back and go, “Oh my gosh, wait a minute, it’s true — I don’t remember the names of the African-American people who were shot, but I can remember the names of the white people who were victims of crime.” And that’s in one of the episodes. I think in the general culture we are very much looking inward, and I think it’s a healthy moment.
Many of the characters will have soliloquies this season. Does Diane have one?
I have one that is in episode 1, and it happens to be one that I just absolutely love. It’s about “where have all the real men gone?” It’s an aria about what happened to real men? Where are the Burt Lancasters and Paul Newmans? I think women will so relate because it’s something I hear from women all the time, like “Why can’t we find real men?”
And Kurt is a real guy, and she’s deeply in love with this guy even though she disagrees with his politics. He’s a man’s man, he uncomplaining, he’s not girlie, he doesn’t use girlie products, you’re not going to see him in a Korean salon getting his pedicure or getting a facial. My late husband [Matthew Cowles] was like that — he’d wear socks that didn’t match, and I’d say, “Your socks don’t match.” And he’d say, “I have a pair at home just like them.” He wore jeans and a leather motorcycle jacket and a scruffy T-shirt, and I loved him, I loved the cowboy. Even sophisticated women, they want a guy to be a guy, so that’s one big monologue.
There’s a great scene in the trailer where Diane discovers Michael Sheen’s character, Roland Blum, in her office — what is their relationship like?
Well, he’s presumptive and she’s incredibly wary. She knows his reputation, so she’s immediately on her guard about him. Or let me put it this way: She remains unimpressed by him. And he has a great effect on people in the law firm — he’s seductive and bombastic and kind of coming in and taking over, and Diane will have none of it.
[Blum] is a self-created person, and he dispenses with the truth and it’s all about hyperbole, and probably like a certain president we know it’s as though Roland represents that template, that kind of person, and he infects the law firm. And we know how Diane feels about Trump, so to have a Trumpian figure come into the law firm is truly appalling to her. She’s ringing alarm bells through the season.
The Kings said that Roland will have quite an influence on Maia (Rose Leslie), and Diane will try to interfere.
Rose and I are just so happy to have a bit of work together, because last season, even though she’s my goddaughter, we were really pulled away from that relationship, having established a very close relationship in season 1. Season 1 begins with my welcoming her into the firm and mentoring her, and the next thing you know her father turns into the villain, the Bernie Madoff character, and our relationship suffers greatly.
Our professional personal relationship wasn’t addressed much in season 2, and I’m glad it will return [this season]. Yes, Maia is the victim of the Roland Blum influence. That’s the first thing you see is her character in court with Roland Blum, and him trying to corrupt her and tell her, “Listen, it’s an amoral universe, baby, and just go with it and trust me — I’m the devil and this is the way the world works, so learn from me.” Diane, she will be the avenging angel — Maia does suffer a great fall because of the Roland influence.
Diane will join the resistance to fight Trump. Where will that lead her?
Well I think that that’s going to unfold as the season goes on, but this season we are going to see Diane venture over to the other side and cross a line in terms of good and evil, and the ends justifies the means — that’s very much my story arc. How far am I able or willing to go? Last year it was Diane not being able to cope and resorting to [LSD] and letting her hair down in the law office and dropping the f-word and sleeping with Antifa bartenders. This season, it’s covert and underground and very much fighting the enemy from behind the scenes. It’s counter-intelligence. It’s really an interesting season for everybody, but I love the Diane story.
For [Diane], it’s as though the Trump influence, the Trump ethos comes into my personal life. It now affects my marriage and it affects the workplace with Roland’s presence and with what happens with Kurt… There’s a very strong sense, which is why she really goes militant, of, this is an infection, this is a toxicity that’s come right into my home and my workplace and I’ve got to rid myself of it and rid the people that I love of this influence.
I think it’s something that people will relate to. There is, whatever your politics, I think there’s definitely a feeling of just utter exhaustion with our political atmosphere and the fact that we can’t seem to talk or think of anything about politics, and I think the Kings are addressing that. I’m as excited as I’ve ever been in my 10 years of playing Diane.
The Good Fight season 3 premieres Thursday, March 14 on CBS All Access.