‘The Good Wife’ Premiere: Don’t Expect Cush Jumbo To Be The New Kalinda Sharma

The Good Wife wrapped up last season with the departure of a beloved, some would say underused, character, Kalinda Sharma. The move was prompted by actor Archie Panjabi’s desire to leave and pursue other projects, including a development deal with 20th Century Fox. Panjabi reportedly had on-set tension with Good Wife star Julianna Margulies that led to a long stretch without the women sharing screen time; their final “reconciliation” was rumored to be filmed using a split screen, according to an Us Weekly report in May.

Still photos of the new season that show Margulies and new cast member Cush Jumbo conversing over drinks might hark back to the good old days of early Kalinda-Alicia camaraderie, but Jumbo insists the two characters are nothing alike. The Chicago Tribune revealed that in the new season, Alicia ends up working at bond court after her failure to get any legal clients following her short-lived political career. Jumbo plays attorney Lucca Quinn, who helps Alicia find her way in her new role.

Jumbo told The Hollywood Reporter that comparisons between herself and Panjabi were not unexpected, but the characters are vastly different.

“[T]he minute I started reading about Lucca, it was really clear to me that they were two different entities. I knew that people would possibly draw comparisons just because we’re both female leads, we’re both British actresses, we’re both people of color, but it was very clear straight away that there was nothing there that was even similar.”

Interestingly, Jumbo had already been tapped for The Good Wife before the show producers even had a clear idea of who the character was going to be. Initially, her role was simply that of a lawyer. The writers discussed the finer points of who eventually became Lucca Quinn with Jumbo, who weighed in on details like whether she would use her real-life British accent or make Lucca American. According to The New York Post, she chose American for the challenge.

Jumbo moved to New York from London in order to take on her Good Wife role. In the U.K., she’s done theater and television, and was even a fan of The Good Wife while in drama school. She left a role on the British series Vera in order to start work on the U.S. program.

According to Good Wife producers, the fact that Alicia and Lucca were drinking together is not an accident. But it might say more about Alicia’s character than the relationship between the two lawyers. Robert and Michelle King told Entertainment Weekly that the new season will delve into Alicia’s love of alcohol, although not to the point of sending her off to rehab.

Jumbo told The Hollywood Reporter fans will discover that for Alicia, having a drink with someone isn’t about friendship or intimacy.

“As you go through this season, you begin to see that Alicia likes to have a drink with everybody. She’s a bit of lush so she doesn’t keep that for one person and her relationships have been split in real different directions.”

Alicia will also be dealing with family issues, including Peter’s run for president and her daughter’s leaving home to start college. With Peter’s true intentions to be the Democratic running mate, he’ll be surrounded by some new political advisors, along with fan favorite Eli Gold.

The Good Wife season premiere airs Sunday, October 4, 9 p.m. on CBS.

[Left photo courtesy of That’s Normal; Right photo by Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images Entertainment]