Julianna Margulies and panelists share their favorite scene partners

Julianna Margulies of "The Good Wife," Vera Farmiga of "Bates Motel," Jon Hamm of "Mad Men" and Lizzy Caplan of "Masters of Sex" talk about on-screen chemistry with Times staff writer Yvonne Villarreal.

Imagine a world where Don had no Peggy, where Daryl had no Carol, where Alicia had no Eli — even DVRs would shudder at the thought.

Complex characters don't make for a compelling show on their own merit. It's the relationships — whether good, bad or in between — that develop among characters that keep viewers tuning in.


Some of drama's formidable stars — Julianna Margulies ("The Good Wife"), Jon Hamm ("Mad Men"), Norman Reedus ("The Walking Dead"), Liev Schrieber ("Ray Donovan"), Vera Farmiga ("Bates Motel") and Lizzy Caplan ("Master of Sex") — took part in a roundtable with the Los Angeles Times to discuss their roles. Among the topics explored was who they like to see their characters play against on their respective shows.

For Margulies — after a full-charge season that delved into the byzantine dynamic between her Alicia Florrick and Will Gardner (Josh Charles), particularly after his death — the answer was less obvious.

"I love the way Alicia reacts with Eli Gold," Margulies said. "Because, I mean, Alan Cumming is a dear friend of mine anyway, and it's so rare that we get scenes together, but when we do, I think she's constantly shocking him in ways that makes her laugh, because to her it's so not a shock, but he's so earnest and stern, and yet he's completely lost when it comes to Alicia, and I think she likes playing him."

Hamm, who plays tortured ad man Don Draper, selected his character's one-time protege Peggy Olson, played by Elisabeth Moss.  The first half of the AMC drama's final season explored a role reversal of sorts for the duo. And Hamm finds something intriguing about the evolution.

"It's come so far from the beginning of the show to where it is now, and yet it still can surprise you with its anger, and meanness, its tenderness and its vulnerability," he said. "I think that's probably the deepest relationship that Don has with anyone on the show, and it's a work relationship, you know, there is no family, really, to that, there's certainly no sexuality to that, there's nothing there other than two people who believe in each other's creative abilities and talent and yet have a hard time being in the same room together sometimes."

For more on whom the other actors chose as their favorite scene partner, check out the video above.