Julianna Margulies on gay character backlash: ‘We’re actors, we’re supposed to embody a character regardless of their sexuality’

Julianna Margulies in “The Morning Show." (Erin Simkin/Apple TV+/TNS)
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Karu F. Daniels New York Daily News (TNS)

Julianna Margulies is not backing down about playing a lesbian with her latest role.

The Emmy Award-winning actress responded to the growing backlash about her portraying out gay anchor Laura Peterson on the Apple TV+ series “The Morning Show.”

She doubled down on her recent remarks about actors being able to play roles that may not be aligned with the personal lives — but this time with a caveat.

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When asked if straight-identified actors should be allowed to play LGBTQ+ characters, “The Good Wife” star said: “My response also would be we’re all making assumptions as to who I am and what my past is and what all of our pasts are. I am an actress and I am supposed to embody another character. Whatever their sexuality is doesn’t matter to me.”

During the “CBS Mornings” interview, the 55-year-old said she wanted to play the character because they shared similar personalities, ambitions and experiences, and warned that if a character’s sexuality is the only trait that determines which actors portrays them, that could open a Pandora’s box regarding casting for roles.

“Are you telling me that because I’m a mother I can never play a woman who’s never had a child? Or if you’ve never been married that you can’t play a married woman?,” she asked. “We’re actors, we’re supposed to embody a character regardless of their sexuality.”

But there is one line Margulies believes should never be crossed — playing characters that are of a different race or gender.

“That’s a whole different story and I 100% agree with that,” she said.

Identity politics seems to be bubbling up more when it comes to casting TV series.

This week, “Insecure” actress Amanda Seales faced backlash for portraying a character from a Black Greek-lettered Panhellenic organization that she is not a member of.

“I don’t know why people keep asking me if I’m a soror,” the actress said on Instagram. “I am not a soror, Tiffany is a soror. Tiffany is a character on a TV show. I didn’t write the character, I play the character. I’m not a soror, I’m an actress and I’m playing a character on a TV show.”

“I think reality TV has really got folks f—ed up — it’s like [they think] it’s all the same,” the actress and comedienne said about the character she’s played for five seasons on the hit HBO series. “I’m just playing a character, that’s it.”

Also this week, Showtime scrapped plans for a limited series based on Joan Rivers after negotiations with her daughter Melissa Rivers for the comedy trailblazer’s life rights didn’t pan out.

The decision to cast “Wandavision” star Kathryn Hahn in the leading role reignited a debate about the representation of Jewish people onscreen — after some condemned the non-Jewish Hahn portraying Rivers, who as devoutly Jewish.

“One could argue, for instance, that a gentile playing Joan Rivers correctly would be doing what is actually called ‘Jewface,’” actress and comedian Sarah Silverman (who many felt was a shoo-in for the role) said on her podcast.

For her portrayal of Linda Tripp in FX’s “Impeachment: American Crime Story,” Emmy Award winner Sarah Paulson faced criticism for being a slender actress wearing a fat suit for the role. Some cynics believe the casting choice took work away from a suitable plus-sized actress.

“There’s a lot of controversy around actors and fat suits, and I think that controversy is a legitimate one,” she told the Los Angeles Times. “I think fat phobia is real. I think to pretend otherwise causes further harm. And it is a very important conversation to be had. But that entire responsibility I don’t think falls on the actor for choosing to do something that is arguably — and I’m talking about from the inside out — the challenge of a lifetime.”

Earlier this month, Margulies appeared on the “Just for Variety” podcast and addressed the budding “Morning Show” casting controversy, at first teasing: “Who’s to say I haven’t had my own gay experiences? We’re making assumptions.”

She then added, “I know there was some trepidation of ‘will lesbian actresses be angry?’ and I can tell you I would never, ever be angry if a lesbian played a straight woman.”

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