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AN ACTRESS DOESN’T GET TO BE NO. 1 on the call sheet without the ability to create an air of intimacy, even when “social distancing” is the order of the day. Faced with the unexpected peril of a face-to-face meeting, Christine Baranski picked up the phone. It was the second Friday in March 2020. The repercussions of a worldwide viral outbreak were surfacing in New York City. Schools were closing. Broadway was going dark. Lines were forming outside grocery stores suddenly bereft of chicken and hand sanitizer. City residents accustomed to teeming sidewalks and sardine subway cars, not to mention up-close-and-personal interviews, were being advised to stay at least six feet away from each other.

“We were supposed to talk on the set,” Baranski says with such genuine regret that anyone would be tempted to get jimmied into a hazmat suit to make it happen. Baranski was holed up in her Manhattan apartment. CBS had temporarily suspended production of the fourth season of The Good Fight, the streaming-platform hit in which Baranski stars as the sharp-tongued-and-tailored litigator Diane Lockhart.

“When they shut down The Good Fight yesterday,” she says, “one of the actresses actually asked the producers if she could take home some toilet paper. There was a run on toilet paper in Brooklyn.”

On the strength of her voice alone—a tony metropolitan alto gifted with drop-dead timing and readily effervesced by her signature brass-and-bubbles laugh—it was easy to imagine Baranski proceeding imperturbably as workaday routines and expectations faltered from the mid-1990s as she is launching out on grandiloquent flights of Shakespeare and Shaw. As at home as a saucy Mrs. Lovett singing “shepherd’s pie peppered with actual shepherd” in Stephen Sondheim’s as she is tendering witheringly crisp assessments of cathected emotion as the Freudian-in-barrettes psychiatrist Beverly Hofstadter, better known as “Leonard’s mother” on .

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