Rose Leslie is branching out — and that’s not just because she’s just tried octopus for the first time.
The 30-year-old Leslie is finally sitting down to a late lunch at Zuma in Midtown Manhattan, about to depart New York as her new show, “The Good Fight,” wraps shooting season one. It was the Scottish actress’ first time filming in the city and her verdict on it — and the octopus — is positive.
Leslie, until now best known as Ygritte on “Game of Thrones” — she, of “You know nothing, Jon Snow” fame — has left the furs and battle scenes behind and is trying on corporate law for size, in “The Good Wife” spinoff “The Good Fight,” the season finale of which aired Sunday night.
“It was brilliant to be able to go off in a whole new universe, even though [the characters] are familiar,” Leslie says. “There are similarities with the previous show, but you’re exploring completely different avenues and characters and seeing this woman whom you’ve loved for so long, Christine Baranski’s Diane Lockhart, falling off her pedestal. We’re really seeing her in a kind of free-fall, and that was something that really pulled me to the project — because she’s always been such an inspirational character to watch for women.”
The spinoff, which has already been renewed for a second season, follows Lockhart as she seeks to start a new life after financial ruin at the hands of her close friends. Leslie is Maya, the only child of the friends, whose lies unravel in a Madoff-like manner.
Much like “The Good Wife,” writers Robert and Michelle King focus the story lines of “The Good Fight” heavily on current politics and social issues.
“There’s something incredibly bold and brave about it, and I highly respect the Kings for putting these issues at the forefront of the writing and the episodes,” Leslie says. “We approached the issue of police brutality, and then also of fake news, and just hopefully, as a result, a trickle-down effect. I’m really assuming this is why the Kings pursue this — to help the viewers, or to enable a kind of thought process that’s like, ‘You’re right!’ Once you’re reflecting society into our show, hopefully that will then project onto the audience, who’ll be like, ‘Wait a minute, your show’s based on reality.’”
“The Good Wife,” which ended in May 2016, carried a strongly loyal fan base, much like Leslie’s previous shows “Game of Thrones” and “Downton Abbey.”
“God, I’ve been so fortunate, actually,” she says. “Because [‘Thrones’ and ‘Downton’] were hits and so universally loved that I’ve only ever been on the receiving end of pure joy, when people are expressing the pleasure they derive from something like ‘Thrones’ or ‘Downton Abbey.’ You’re so energized by the story lines and by the worlds that you know that it’s real escapism for some of the fans. And, that’s an incredible, extraordinary feeling — to know you’re a part of something that gives people joy.”