When Julianna Margulies exited her role as ER's Nurse Carol Hathaway in 2000, the world was stunned this curly-tressed star gave up one of TV's highest paying gigs. The actress bristled — and still does — to comparisons with NYPD Blue's infamously injudicious ship-jumper, David Caruso.

"I always found it incredibly odd that anyone would compare me to him," Margulies says. "First of all, I did the show for six years, and I was always appreciative of the show and I completed a contract on the show. In fact, I signed two extra contracts on that show. He walked out after a year and then failed.

"I was very taken aback by the backlash," the 36-year-old continues . "And I thought, 'Wow, has no one been watching for six years?' That's a real insult to me."

Though she clearly resents having her name spoken in the same breath as Caruso's, Margulies has no personal beef with the redheaded CSI: Miami star. "I think he's a great actor," she says. "I'm happy that he has a TV show now. He's humble about it now, and he learned a very important lesson."

Meanwhile, don't expect Margulies back on the small screen anytime soon. She can currently be seen co-starring with hottie Andy Garcia in The Man From Elysian Fields. She also has two other films, Evelyn and Ghost Ship, scheduled for release this year. Given the variety of her new roles — ranging from betrayed wife to action heroine — she seems glad to have turned in her scrubs.

"How far can you take one character after six years?" she wonders. "I was going out of my mind creatively. I didn't want to get lazy — and I was seeing that in myself. What I love to do is step in someone else's shoes. If I'm stepping into the same person's shoes all the time, I may as well just be me."