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Julianna Margulies Biography


Home > Actresses > M > Margulies, Julianna > Biography


Birth Name: Julianna Margulies
Born: 06/08/1966
Birth Place: Spring Valley, New York, USA


Born on June 8, 1966 in Spring Valley, NY, Margulies's father, Paul, was an advertising executive who wrote the famous Alka Seltzer jingle ("plop, plop, fizz, fizz") while her mother, Francesca, was a former physical therapist and dance teacher specializing in ballet. Her family moved to Paris when she was two, then relocated to Sussex, England two years later. When she was 14, Margulies returned to the States to attend High Mowing, a boarding school in Wilton, NH. After graduation, Margulies attended Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, NY, where she studied art history. But in her first year, she began taking theater as a creative outlet and suddenly found herself cast in school productions. Margulies went to New York City after graduating college to make her way in theater, which she did successfully while supporting herself as a waitress and bartender. Eventually, she made her film debut as a prostitute opposite Steven Seagal in "Out For Justice" (1991). While continuing her theater work, Margulies had a guest appearance on "Law & Order" (NBC, 1990-2010), a requisite for any New York-based actor.

After appearing in a failed pilot produced by Tom Fontana, Margulies was tapped by the writer-producer for a recurring role as a waitress with musical ambitions who eventually becomes a romantic interest for Detective Bolander (Ned Beatty) on "Homicide: Life on the Streets" (NBC, 1992-99). She was then cast in the pilot episode of "ER," a groundbreaking drama about the intensity of life in a Chicago emergency room. In the original ending of the pilot, her character, Carol Hathaway, was supposed to commit suicide over her failed relationship with Dr. Doug Ross (George Clooney). But the producers instead changed it so Hathaway attempts suicide, but fails, allowing Margulies to stay on the show for six seasons. Over that time, she earned Emmy nominations for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series every year she was on the show, but only won for her performance during its first season. Nonetheless, Margulies established herself as a consistently talented performer and the show put her on the map.

Following her success on "ER," Margulies resumed her feature career, appearing as a spoiled American interned in a woman's camp in Asia during WWII in Bruce Beresford's "Paradise Road" (1997). That same year, she brought strength and sensuality to her portrayal of an unsuspecting single mother romanced by a grifter (Bill Paxton) in "Traveller" (1997). Margulies followed with turns as a traditional Hasidic wife in "A Price Above Rubies" (1998) and as a gun moll involved with bank robber Matthew McConaughey in "The Newton Boys" (1998). She next starred as a harried bride facing a series of crises before her wedding in the festival-screened romantic comedy "The Big Day/We Met on the Vineyard" (1999). Switching gears, Margulies played Kyra Sedgwick's lesbian lover in the ensemble comedy "What's Cooking" (2000), which screened opening night at the 2000 Sundance Film Festival. That same year saw her departure from "ER," after which she accepted the role of Morgaine in the feminist retelling of the Arthurian myths, "The Mists of Avalon" (TNT, 2001).

After her run on "ER," Margulies took a step back and returned to the theater, first taking part in the endless procession of female actors delivering "The Vagina Monologues" (2000), then as the lover of an elderly artist in Jon Robin Baitz's "Ten Unknowns" (2001). In 2002, she made her way back to the big screen in "The Man from Elysian Fields," playing the loving, unsuspecting wife of a struggling novelist (Andy Garcia) who suddenly finds himself moonlighting as a high-end escort for women looking for intelligent companionship. She also starred in the Steve Beck action thriller feature "Ghost Ship" (2002), playing salvage team leader Maureen Eps, whose crew discovers a long-lost ocean liner. She ended the year co-starring in the true-to-life drama "Evelyn" (2002), delivering a strong performance as a barmaid who attracts the attention of an out-of-work house painter (Pierce Brosnan) battling both the Irish courts and Catholic Church, who have taken away his children because he has been deemed an unfit parent.

After a two-show arc on "Scrubs" (NBC, 2001-2010) as a malpractice lawyer with a crush on J.D. (Zach Braff), followed by a supporting turn in "Hitler: The Rise of Evil" (CBS, 2003), Margulies starred as a counterterrorism director for the National Security Council who tries to get disparate personalities from the FBI, CIA, MI5 and MI6 to work together following a terrorist attack in "The Grid" (TNT, 2004). Her strong performance earned the actress a nomination by the Hollywood Foreign Press for the 2004 Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role - Miniseries or Television Movie. She next appeared as a flight attendant making her last trip in "Snakes on a Plane" (2006), easily the most hyped and highly anticipated movie since "The Blair Witch Project" (1998). Just as it promised, "Snakes on a Plane" starred hundreds of slithering reptiles released onto an airliner carrying a witness to a brutal mob murder who is under the protection of an FBI agent (Samuel L. Jackson). Unfortunately, the movie failed to live up to its hype.

Fluctuating comfortably between features and television, Margulies made another return to the small screen with "The Lost Room" (The Sci Fi Channel, 2006), a supernatural mystery about a detective (Peter Krause) investigating the disappearance of his wife and daughter in a motel which is connected to strange magical items found in the room. Meanwhile, Margulies nabbed a recurring role on "The Sopranos" (HBO, 1998-2007), playing a heroin-addicted real estate agent with bad taste in men during the famed show's final season. After seven years removed from "ER," Margulies finally returned to leading actress status on "Canterbury's Law" (Fox, 2007), a legal drama starring the actress as a tough, hard-drinking and often combative defense attorney who pushes legal bounds to their limits in serving her clients. Complicating her life is the loss of her son, who disappeared without a trace. Unfortunately, the show did not have staying power and was cancelled during the first season. To the delight of fans and for old time's sake, Margulies joined a number of former "ER" cast members who reprised their characters for the series finale in 2009, after which she was again cast in a series' lead as the wife of a disgraced and imprisoned politician who returns to legal work after years in the background on "The Good Wife" (CBS, 2009- ). For her efforts, she won the 2010 SAG and Golden Globe awards for Best Lead Actress in a Drama.Though she failed to win the Emmy, Margulies again won the Screen Actors Guild Award in early 2011. In late 2012, she was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Drama Series, proving her performance still resonated with critics.