'The Good Fight': Audra McDonald on Season 3's Unapologetic Tone and Embracing the Resistance (Exclusive)

The Good Fight Season 3
CBS All Access

The actress and Broadway vet talks to ET about season three of the CBS All Access series.

The Good Fight is back and fiercer than ever.

CBS All Access' original series kicks off its third season on Thursday, with Diane Lockhart (Christine Baranski), Adrian Boseman (Delroy Lindo), Liz Reddick-Lawrence (Audra McDonald) and the fine folks at Reddick, Boseman & Lockhart still struggling to adapt to living and working in a Trump-led world. The latest Good Fight installment, whose episode titles will be largely inspired by Friends, continues Diane's journey as she toes the line on whether she can successfully resist a turbulent administration while having it not drive her to the brink of insanity.

Could season three be the year The Good Fight goes balls to the wall as TV's most refreshing resistance drama? ET sat down with McDonald in January during a break at the Television Critics Association winter press tour in Pasadena, California, to get her take on the newest chapter in The Good Fight saga, welcoming Michael Sheen into the fold and the real-life controversies that will make its way to the show.

ET: You first played Liz for an episode on The Good Fight in 2013 and you're getting to dig into her on a deeper level on The Good Fight. What excited you about getting the opportunity to revisit this character?

Audra McDonald: On The Good Wife, because you got to fill it in really quickly and then get to the meat of the plot, there's not enough time. So, in this particular case, as the show progresses -- I joined with the second season -- and here in the third season, you can learn a little bit more about Liz and her background with her family and the importance of her father. He's the reason this whole law firm exists and her relationship to that and her relationship to Boseman. It allows you to make your character that much more complicated and richer, more drawn out.

And it seems like we'll get to learn more about Liz's backstory in season three.

Right off the bat with the first episode, there's some personal things that happened to her that affect her and the law firm as well. There's some major stuff that she has to deal with, some major bones that she has to deal with immediately.

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I feel like one of the major points of conflict that could arise is Liz working alongside her ex-husband, Adrian Boseman, as name partners at the law firm.

Yeah, that's it. They are now working together and seeing each other on a daily basis and having to communicate as coworkers with a very complicated and fraught history. Their's was not a happy marriage. Their's was a very short, tumultuous marriage. What I love about the way Robert and Michelle have written most of my scenes with Delroy [Lindo] is even if we're just talking about work stuff, you see what their marriage was. You can see how they related to each other in the marriage, as it is sort of playing out in their workspace. Even though they are not a couple anymore, you fall into the old patterns. They know which buttons to push to send the other person off into oblivion angrily or to calm them down and negotiate. 

What has been gratifying for you in terms of playing that interchange with Delroy? You guys have such a spark every time you banter. 

Delroy is an amazing actor with a huge career and he comes from theater, as do I. As do most of the people on set actually. There's a language that we speak, I think. We're able to... what's the right way to put it? We're able to trust. There's a lot of improv, not necessarily with the dialogue. But, sometimes we'll let the camera roll for a little bit and then we can sort of play a little bit with the dialogue. Each time we do improv a little bit, it brings a little more color to who they are and who they are in each other's universe. I think you can do that with another actor who has been trained to do that, knows how to improv and knows how to get you to explore the characters.

Will Liz be forced to cross an ethical line this season, like she did last year when Boseman was shot?

Yeah, I think it's because we're in a post-factual world and post-ethical world, as far as the Trump universe [is concerned] and it's certainly the universe in which The Good Fight takes place. Trump is definitely president and affecting them professionally and emotionally and psychologically on a daily basis. I think the line is being moved all the time in real time, in real life and on The Good Fight with these characters. What's ethical now? What's factual? What matters? What is going to create the most change, or it help in terms of survival in this world? They're going to be pushed up against that question a lot this season. Liz especially because things that she wouldn't necessarily think are right or a legal, because they're not legal, it might still be the right thing to do ethically. There's a lot of challenge with that as they learn how to resist.

The show really leaned into what it meant to live and work in a Trump world. How does that continue in season three?

It's still the world we're all living in. There's a lot; there's Trump and there's the Trump universe, but then there's everything that occurs as a result of that. Whether what's going on with the #MeToo movement or what's going on in terms of immigration issues [and] whatnot. All of it bleeds into everything else. Dealing with the different networks and the way politics works, the way the government is working or not working, all of that leads into everybody's everyday life. That's stuff that the Kings are not afraid to dive in and say, "Now, how would this particular group of people, given the circumstances that we're all living in, how do they react to it?" Because Trump is affecting us all, it's going affect them too still.

You mentioned #MeToo. How will the show address the movement this season? 

I don't know what I'm allowed to say and not allowed to say, but I can say that it figures quite prominently. And it's something that's touched on and dealt with.

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Diane and Liz started off season two in an adversarial relationship, but by the end of the season, they were in a much friendlier place. What is their dynamic like at the start of season three?

They obviously recognize the power that each one of them has and I think they respect each other's intellect. In the second season, Liz was trying to figure out where she could push Diane and where she couldn't. At the same time, Diane was realizing that Liz is a formidable foe, but also she could be a formidable friend as well. I think towards the end of the season they realized that they probably they had a powerful alchemy together and that it made more sense for them to be on the same side and work toward the common good together then opposed. Liz and Diane are just finding that they have more in common than they realize and perhaps leaning on each other a bit more than in season two. They find that they need to lean on each other a bit.

Michael Sheen is a new series regular, playing new attorney Roland Blum, and his character description is amazing. How has it been integrating him into the show and as part of the cast?

Oh, it is. It is. It's as wild as you can possibly get. Robert and Michelle are not afraid to go all the way, balls to the walls with the characters and their writing and they trust the actors that they cast. They cast smartly and they trust that they will fill that character in as richly as they do. Michael Sheen was such a brilliant choice. He's such a wonderful man and so sweet, but [Roland is] this just larger than life, corrupt character. The character he's playing really throws the firm for a major loop, so it's like having an 800-pound gorilla in the room now. 

Does he add a new element to the group?

How could it not? It does! He's bringing chaos. His character brings chaos to the firm, which is always interesting. It makes for great drama.

Cush Jumbo gave birth in between seasons and her character, Lucca, is also now a new mother. How has it been just seeing Cush transition into motherhood on set?

Oh yeah. Well, I mean, let's see. [Cush's son] Max is 8 or 9 months or something like that? My youngest daughter, is 2 and a half. Cush has made the transition beautifully. She's so unflappable, nothing seems to phase her. She's so elegant and graceful in everything she does. She cruised into motherhood, seemingly with no bumps, with a baby that sleeps through the night. Mine still doesn't and hers does and so I'm very jealous about that! She's handled it beautifully. She's got a ton of support on set, but it's been seamless for her. Maybe it won't seem as much for Luca. One day Cush didn't have a baby and the next day she has the most adorable kid -- next to mine, of course -- but beautiful. It's been great.

The Good Fight returns Thursday, March 14, exclusively on CBS All Access.