Sarah Steele stars alongside some of the biggest names in theatre, including two-time Tony winner Christine Baranski and six-time Tony winner Audra McDonald—but not onstage. The actor plays Marissa Gold on the CBS All Access series The Good Fight, a spinoff of the hit show The Good Wife.
But Steele has some experience acting opposite big theatre names on the stage, as well. The actor made her Broadway debut in 2014’s The Country House, led by Blythe Danner, and returned in the hit play The Humans, which earned her co-stars Reed Birney and Jayne Houdyshell Tony Awards.
Steele relishes the experience of being a series regular and finding the layers of her investigator. “Marissa Gold is a brilliant but scattered woman who is truly fearless,” says Steele. “She has searing insights into everyone around her which people don't necessarily expect because she's young, flighty and unassuming.”
Here, Steele talks about the lessons she learned from theatre, the performances that left the most profound impact, and her most treasured moment with Baranski and McDonald.
What was your first professional job?
Sarah Steele: A Comcast commercial when I was ten. I had to struggle to bike up a steep hill in Manayunk, Pennsylvania to represent "the slow non-Comcast internet."
What was the stage show that has most influenced you?
I saw Circle Mirror Transformation [at Playwrights Horizons in 2010] when I was in college and was blown away. I recognized it as the kind of acting I wanted to do and hoped to be able to achieve one day. So it was quite a dream come true for me to work with Reed Birney [who starred in it] many years later.
Is there a stage moment you witnessed (from the audience, from the wings, in rehearsal) that stayed with you?
Also while in college I saw August: Osage County on Broadway. At the end of the first act when Amy Morton throws her mother into a chair and screams "I'M. RUNNING. THINGS. NOW." I audibly screamed from just the sheer energy I felt watching her power.
What’s been the most rewarding experience onstage for you?
There were a few times during The Humans when I decided to really take risks and try something new and be more bold and aggressive in my work. I remember being able to feel that it was working and the risks I was taking were paying off, which allowed me to trust myself more as a performer and not be so controlled. Also just the work of building that family with the finest actors I'd ever met was a privilege that I doubt will be repeated in my career.
Who is a collaborator from theatre who has made you better?
There have been so many! Working with Annie Kauffman made me want to approach my process in a deeper, more detailed way. And certainly Joe Mantello was major for me in becoming bolder and embodying my full power onstage.
What is your favorite part of doing TV that’s different from theatre?
There's something very satisfying about seeing the end result with television. The process always feels so chaotic and so many people are doing amazing work you aren't privy to. Seeing the stories the editors and showrunners are able to craft from the footage is always so surprising and such a treat.
What has been your most memorable moment working with theatrical titans Christine Baranski and Audra McDonald?
We were on set shooting Season 2 in the early days of the #MeToo movement and our show tackles this topic head on. Getting to process that moment with women I've admired for so long was something I'll never forget.
The Good Fight Season 3 currently streams on CBS All Access. New episodes available every Thursday.