Archie Panjabi Puts Kalinda Behind Her -- Even if the Knee-High Boots Stick Around

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“I feel with The Good Wife,
I was really spoiled in terms of the love and affection from the critics and
the audience,” Archie Panjabi tells ET over the phone about her Emmy-winning
role as private investigator Kalinda Sharma on the CBS drama. She left the show
at the end of season six, amid rumors of feuds between her and co-star Julianna
Margulies and just one season before the show itself drew to an unexpected

Now, Panjabi is set to make her debut as Nas Kamal, head of
a secret branch of the NSA, on NBC’s Blindspot
when the series returns with season two on Wednesday, Sept. 14 at 10 p.m. ET.
It’s her first major U.S. television role since leaving The Good Wife, following a guest spot on Brooklyn Nine-Nine, a small recurring role on the BBC crime series The Fall and a supporting role in Dwayne
Johnson’s San Andreas
. “So it would
be really great to get that same kind of response. But, you know, I'll accept
what my fate is on that,” she says.

MORE: Archie Panjabi Opens Up About Controversial 'Good Wife' Finale Scene

In fact, it was playing a news reporter in the disaster
that whet her appetite for more action. “I had a little taste of it when
I did San Andreas and I really did
like it,” Panjabi says. “There are so many things involved. You've got stunt
people there, you're handling weapons and you have to be completely immersed in
the scene.”

“It’s almost like flexing a new muscle that everybody has
but it hasn’t been used for some time,” she says of the physical and mental
demands of acting on a show like Blindspot.

Even though the nature of the series -- about a mysterious,
tattooed woman (Jaimie Alexander) who lost her memory and whose tattoos help
the FBI solve certain crimes -- is far different from the legal drama of The Good Wife, Nas will have a familiar

MORE: 'Blindspot' Boss on Season 2 Reset: We're Hitting 'the Ground Running'

When Nas first appears onscreen, jumping out of a
helicopter, she’s wearing a jacket, short skirt and knee-high boots. While
Panjabi says the look is not intentionally Kalinda-like, “they had decided it
was appropriate for the first episode … It just so happens that the boots
seemed to go the best with that particular dress.” 

But Panjabi is quick to point out the distinct differences:
“Even though they are knee-high, they are suede. Kalinda wore leather. They are
not stiletto heels and they’re brown, not black.” 


If there are any other similarities between Blindspot, The Good Wife and even The
, it’s a strong female dynamic, which the actress is naturally drawn

“I really like strong female friendships,” Panjabi says. “I
don’t feel they’re shown enough on TV as much as they should be. Often, it’s
nice to see two women looking out for each other.” 

“There was a really good energy match with both Jaimie [Alexander]
and I,” Panjabi says of the first scene the two actresses filmed together on Blindspot. “I hope they develop that
further because I certainly found it when we were working together.” 

And when that energy matches up, it creates magic onscreen,
as seen when Panjabi appeared opposite Margulies -- before the latter half of
the series found the two actresses no longer sharing any scenes -- and
alongside Gillian Anderson on The Fall.

MORE: Jane Thinks About Removing Her Tattoos While Under Duress in Cut 'Blindspot' Scene

It was that role as Reed Smith, who shares a kiss with
Anderson’s Stella Gibson, that reportedly prompted Panjabi to close the chapter
on Kalinda. “When I was kissing her, Allan Cubitt, the show’s creator and director, had to say,
‘Archie, can you hold back?,’ because Gillian was supposed to take me by
complete surprise. I didn’t think that I was very forward in [the scene], but
obviously after a while a character starts to affect you. I thought, ‘OK, I
think it’s time to go now,’” she told Radio
Times Magazine
in January 2015, leading to headlines such as “Archie
Panjabi Says She Decided to Leave The Good Wife After Kissing Gillian

Panjabi admits it was “said in tongue-in-cheek,” but
“different countries interpreted it in different ways.” 

Sadly, though, when The
returns to the BBC for season three, Panjabi will not be seen. Due to
scheduling conflicts, she could not commit to its final season. “I will
definitely be there in spirit,” she says. “Gillian’s a good of friend of mine …
I’m looking forward to seeing that.” 

While Panjabi won’t speak to whatever drama may have
prompted her exit from The Good Wife (“In terms of anything that happened on The Good Wife, I think it’s only respectful to leave it on The Good Wife,” she told a room full of reporters in August),
she does offer a lesson learned from her time on the series: “I learned that you could put in all the time
and effort, and everybody wants to do their best with the project, but
ultimately, how good it is is completely in the hands of the critics and the
audiences.” It’s a lesson that will likely be put to the test when fans finally
see her in a new light -- even if she’s in a similar outfit.