Few of us can say that we've ever been offered an amazing amount of money simply to stick around at a job that we were pretty sure we needed to move on from. But, this is not the case for Julianna Margulies, who played Nurse Carol Hathaway on the NBC mega-hit ER for six seasons before deciding to pursue other opportunities in her career. Margulies was offered an astounding $27 million to stay on the stirring drama, but turned it down, and now we know why.
Obviously, Julianna Margulies isn't alone in turning down a giant payday so that she could do other things with her life and / or career. But, it turns out that her decision wasn't quite that simple or easy, and it took a bit of (possibly) divine intervention for her to make her final choice once she was offered $27 million to stay with ER for two additional seasons. As Margulies told Oprah in a recent Super Soul interview in preparation for the release of her book, Sunshine Girl: An Unexpected Life, she'd asked a lot of people what she should do, and everyone told her to take the money, however:
I felt very alone because I had already planned what I was going to do before they had offered me that money. I had my life planned. . . . I had heard a friend got some spiritual books and I had been studying some Buddhism, so I went [to the bookstore]. And I ran my finger down a shelf and I picked out a book, Awakening the Buddha Within. I brought it home and I said nothing. I walked into my bedroom, I shut the door, I opened the book, I closed my eyes and I went like [points to a line]. And I opened my eyes and the line was, 'I knew I wanted to learn more, not earn more.'
Wow. Alright, there are a few things to pick apart here, but let's start at the beginning. ER was a ginourmous success almost immediately, and a large part of that was because of Julianna Margulies' sensitive but tough portrayal of her determined character. Margulies made Carol a fan-favorite (and gave fans a lot of hope for a certain on-screen romance), so it makes complete sense that the series would be willing to offer her a ton of money to reconsider her decision to leave, even for a far shorter period than most TV show contracts last.
And, I don't think any of us could fault Julianna Margulies' family, friends, acquaintances, agents or literally anyone she asked for advice who told her she'd be "crazy" to turn her new ER offer down. Few of us would quickly give someone the opposite advice, right? As Margulies noted, though, this led to her feeling "very alone" because she had really already decided that leaving the medical drama was the right move, and had plans to go back to New York and do theater.
Margulies was at a point in her life that we all come to at least once (if not several times), where you really know what's the right move for yourself, but you feel wrong for wanting it because everyone is suggesting you should do the opposite. She needed a non-invested party to give some guidance, so Margulies bought a spiritual book, and figured it could help her choose the correct next step.
I have often used the blind-point method myself to make a decision or at least to get some hint of what to do next, and it has never failed to lead me to the choice I'd basically already made, so I can totally understand why Margulies took the note and went ahead and left her life as Nurse Carol behind.
Luckily, Julianna Margulies hasn't spent much time after ER wanting for work, and her long run on the CBS hit The Good Wife led to more Emmy and Golden Globe wins for the actress, so everything really did turn out just fine after she trusted her gut (and a book about Buddhism).