ALBERTA

'Good Wife' star Baranski recalls falling in love with acting at Stratford, Ont.

06/06/2013 12:28 EDT | Updated 08/06/2013 05:12 EDT
CALGARY - Christine Baranski became enamoured with acting while on a trip to Canada more than 40 years ago and the passionate love affair is still going strong.

The New York-based star of TV, film and stage will be travelling north next week as she receives the Lifetime Achievement award at the Banff World Media Festival.

Baranski said that as a child growing up in Buffalo, N.Y., her family would often camp at Lake Muskoka, Ont., "when it wasn't really developed at all".

But it was during a high school outing to Stratford, Ont., that she really lost her heart.

"I can honestly say the first time I was struck like an arrow in my heart thinking this is what I want to do with my life is when I went up to Stratford, Ontario. We went and saw a double-bill of 'Romeo and Juliet' and 'Measure for Measure,'" she said in a recent interview.

"I even remember where I was sitting in the theatre and I remember watching those actors and there was something just so powerful and magical about it," she said with a sigh.

"It was that feeling like when you fall in love. You feel literally like you've been hit by an arrow. It was kind of like that."

Although theatre remains her first love, Baranski continues to play legal eagle Diane Lockhart in TV's 'The Good Wife,' as well as a recurring role as Dr. Beverly Hofstadter (Leonard Hofstadter's mother) in 'The Big Bang Theory.'

She's won two Tony Awards and an Emmy, and her film credits include 'The Birdcage,' 'Chicago,' 'The Ref' and the hit musical 'Mamma Mia!.'

Baranski sees humour in a lifetime achievement award. At age 61, she has never been busier.

"I know. It's so funny when you hear that. It's a little jolting since I'm still learning how to do this," she said with a chuckle.

"It's far from over for me. I'm deeply honoured to be recognized. I actually have been acting since 1968 so if you do the math that's a little over four decades."

Baranski is feeding her love for theatre while 'The Good Wife' is on hiatus. She performed in Rodgers & Hart's 'On Your Toes' in New York as part of the Encores series that resurrects musicals the public hasn't seen a while. On June 17 she will join Matt Damon, Vanessa Redgrave and Alan Alda for a monologue at the New York Shakespeare Festival.

She's completely at ease with her celebrity status and the attention that goes with it.

"I have to say I have a very nice level of fame. I wouldn't want to be much more famous than what I am because if you're in that Brad Pitt/Angelina Jolie level of fame you actually are like held hostage by it," she said.

The attention can come at the most unexpected moments for Baranski.

"I found myself in a great cathedral in Prague being surrounded by young children who look up at me and it's like 'Oh my gosh. It's Leonard's mother' and they're talking to me in (Czech) and pointing at me. They all know who I am because of 'The Big Bang Theory,'" said Baranski, who wishes she could do more episodes on the hit comedy.

"Television has been particularly kind to me in terms of visibility. There's nothing like being on a hit TV show to have everybody in the world know who you are. It's pretty extraordinary."

The Banff World Media Festival runs June 9 to 12.

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