Carrie Preston

Carrie Preston Headshot

Actress • Producer • Director

Birth Date: June 21, 1967

Age: 56 years old

Birth Place: Macon, Georgia

Spouses: Michael Emerson

After gaining recognition in an acclaimed Broadway production of Shakespeare's "The Tempest" in 1995, Carrie Preston quickly began acquiring credits on television and in hit films like the Julia Roberts smash, "My Best Friend's Wedding" (1997). A regular cast role on the celebrity chef sitcom "Emeril" (NBC, 2001) only added to her credibility as the ambitious actress divided her time between work on the screen and in vaunted stage productions.

A number of guest spots on the long-running police procedural "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" (NBC, 2001-2011) and a substantial role in writer-director Alan Ball's culture-clash drama "Towelhead" (2007) were only a smattering of the credits Preston had accumulated prior to her being brought on board Ball's sexy vampire series "True Blood" (HBO, 2008-2014) as the much put-upon waitress Arlene Fowler. During breaks from the hit show, the ambitious Preston also produced and starred with her husband, actor Michael Emerson, in the indie-comedy "Ready? OK!" (2008) and took on a recurring role as a quirky attorney on the legal drama "The Good Wife" (CBS, 2009-2016).

Always on the lookout for interesting roles in independent productions, she garnered strong reviews opposite Hal Holbrook in the Southern gothic drama "That Evening Sun" (2010), but also starred in the mainstream sitcom "Crowded" (NBC 2016- ). One of the hardest-working character actresses of her day, Preston maintained a laser focus on her craft.

Born on June 21, 1967 in Macon, GA, Carrie Preston was raised by her mother, an artist and art therapist, and her father, a geotechnical engineer. Inheriting her artistic inclinations from her mother, Preston was bitten by the acting bug at a young age. As an eight-year-old, she formed her own local theater troupe and was soon mounting productions - as writer, director, actor and costumer - with her young neighborhood friends.

It was little surprise then that following high school graduation, Preston went on to earn her BFA from the University of Evansville before studying acting at the famed Julliard School in New York. Not long after graduating from Julliard in 1994, Preston landed one of her first professional acting jobs as Miranda in a Broadway revival of Shakespeare's "The Tempest" (1995) opposite Patrick Stewart as Prospero. Art and life intersected for Preston that same year, when she played Ophelia in a production of "Hamlet" for the Alabama Shakespeare Festival.

It was there that she met fellow actor, Michael Emerson - who would later become a star himself as Ben Linus/Henry Gale on "Lost (ABC, 2004-2010) - who she would perform with several more times throughout the years to come. Preston continued to make progress on the stage, racking up such credits as the traditionally male role of Octavius Caesar opposite Vanessa Redgrave's Cleopatra in an off-Broadway revival of "Antony and Cleopatra" at the Joseph Papp Public Theater in 1997. Also that year, she made her feature film debut in the hugely successful romantic-comedy "My Best Friend's Wedding" (1997), alongside cinema superstar Julia Roberts.

Less memorable was that year's comedy "For Richer or Poorer" (1997), a box-office dud starring Tim Allen and Kirstie Alley. Preston's on and off-screen good fortunes continued unabated when she married Emerson and was seen alongside Bruce Willis in the thriller "Mercury Rising" (1998) that same year. Following substantial roles in the romantic dramas "Guinevere" (1999) and "Woman Wanted" (2000), Preston appeared in director Robert Redford's golf-themed fable "The Legend of Bagger Vance" (2000) with such marquee names as Will Smith, Matt Damon and Charlize Theron.

The new millennium presented Preston with a multitude of career opportunities, which the exceptionally driven performer attacked with gusto. In addition to a slew of stage performances, both off-Broadway and in Los Angeles, Preston landed her first regular cast role on celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse's short-lived sitcom, "Emeril" (NBC, 2001). Forging on, Preston continued to chalk up credits in virtually every entertainment medium, with mid-decade guest turns on "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" (NBC, 2001- ), a return to Broadway in "The Rivals" (2004-05), and a supporting role in the high-profile comedy-thriller, "The Stepford Wives" (2004), starring Nicole Kidman.

She and her husband occasionally worked together on the same project, such as on "Lost" (ABC, 2004-2010), in which she played the mother of the Machiavellian Ben Linus (Emerson) for several flashback scenes. They were given the chance to perform opposite each other - this time in the same scenes - in "Straight-Jacket" (2004), a 1950s-set romantic spoof about a studio secretary (Preston) who marries a closeted Rock Hudson-like movie star (Matt Letscher) in an effort to mask his sexuality.

Preston later had the opportunity to play Felicity Huffman's sister in the award-winning, independent adventure-comedy "Transamerica (2005), prior to returning to Broadway once more for a 2006 production of the Danish satire "Festen." After taking on the lead role in the indie festival hit, "Lovely by Surprise" (2007) and an appearance in writer-director Alan Ball's culture-clash drama "Towelhead" (2007), Preston produced and starred in "Ready? OK!" (2008), a dramedy also featuring Emerson as a gay neighbor trying to help a single mother (Preston) cope with the emerging sexuality of her young son, who wants to become a cheerleader.

Going from indie features to working with some of the most respected names in cinema, she went on to land roles in Woody Allen's acclaimed romantic drama "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" (2008) and the controversial "Doubt" (2008), a drama about perceptions of guilt and propriety at a 1960s Catholic school, starring Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

With her next project, Preston landed one of biggest roles of her already impressive career when she was a cast in Alan Ball's "True Blood" (HBO, 2008-2014), the hit series in which vampires live openly in the world after the invention of a synthetic blood eliminates their need to prey on humanity for sustenance. Alongside series stars Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer, Preston played waitress Arlene Fowler, a well-meaning, albeit somewhat bigoted (against vampires) single mother with an exceptionally poor romantic track record. Enjoying the notoriety that came with the success of "True Blood," the actress still found time to take on side projects, like a supporting role in the acclaimed Southern drama "That Evening Sun" (2009), starring Hal Holbrook. Preston also scored a semi-recurring role on the Emmy Award-winning legal drama, "The Good Wife" (CBS, 2009-2016), playing the brilliant but forgetful attorney Elsbeth Tascioni.

As "True Blood" continued its journey from hit series to bona fide pop culture phenomenon, the indefatigable Preston worked harder than ever with appearances in the films "Virginia" (2010) - an ensemble drama starring Jennifer Connelly and Ed Harris - and the indie comedy "A Bag of Hammers" (2011), starring Jason Ritter and Rebecca Hall. She also found time to collaborate with her husband again for a recurring role on his science-fiction-tinged crime drama "Person of Interest" (CBS, 2011-16), on which he played one-half of a covert team attempting to stop violent crimes before they transpire in New York City. Preston next starred opposite Patrick Warburton in the family sitcom "Crowded" (NBC 2016) as one-half of a married couple whose adult children return home.

By Bryce Coleman

Credits

ElsbethStream

Actor
Elsbeth Tascioni
Series
2024
94%

Live with Kelly and MarkStream

Guest
Talk
2023

The HoldoversStream

Actor
Miss Lydia Crane
Movie
2023
97%

Sherri

Guest
Talk
2022

The Good Fight Farewell Special

Host
Show
2022

They/ThemStream

Actor
Movie
2022
33%

Space OddityStream

Actor
Jane McAllister
Movie
2022
56%

CBS Mornings

Guest
News
2021

Dr. DeathStream

Actor
Robbie McClung
Miniseries
2021
93%

The Drew Barrymore ShowStream

Guest
Talk
2020

One of These Days

Actor
Joan Dempsey
Movie
2020

30 Miles From Nowhere

Actor
Sylvia
Movie
2018

The Celebrity Perspective With Ashley Berges

Guest
Show
2017

ClawsStream

Actor
Polly
Series
2017
90%

ClawsStream

Director
Series
2017
90%

BrockmireStream

Guest Star
Elle
Series
2017
98%

When We RiseStream

Guest Star
Sally Gearhart
Miniseries
2017
82%

The Good FightStream

Director
Series
2017
95%

The Good FightStream

Guest Star
Elsbeth Tascioni
Series
2017
95%

To the BoneStream

Actor
Susan
Movie
2017
70%

And Then I Go

Actor
Ms. Arnold
Movie
2017

Daisy Winters

Actor
Aunt Margaret
Movie
2017

Dating Game Killer

Actor
Carol Jensen
Movie
2017

Grace and FrankieStream

Guest Star
Krystle
Series
2016
90%

Celebrity PageStream

Guest
News
2016

CrowdedStream

Actor
Martina
Series
2016
32%

Must See TV: An All-Star Tribute to James Burrows

Guest
Show
2016

Equity

Actor
Compliance Officer Abby
Movie
2016

The Late Show With Stephen ColbertStream

Guest
Talk
2015

HappyishStream

Actor
Debbie
Series
2015
32%

Vino Veritas

Actor
Claire
Movie
2014

5 Flights Up

Actor
Miriam Carswell
Movie
2014

Why We (Heart) Vampires

Guest
Show
2013

The FollowingStream

Guest Star
Series
2013
58%

Who's Afraid of Vagina Wolf?

Actor
Chloe
Movie
2013

That's What She Said

Director
Movie
2012

That's What She Said

Producer
Movie
2012

Person of InterestStream

Guest Star
Grace Hendricks
Series
2011
92%

Procura-se

Actor
Monica
Movie
2011

A Bag of Hammers

Actor
Lynette
Movie
2011

Sironia

Actor
Grace
Movie
2011

The Talk

Guest
Talk
2010

Virginia

Actor
Betty
Movie
2010

The Good WifeStream

Guest Star
Elsbeth Tascioni
Series
2009
93%

Royal PainsStream

Guest Star
Jackie Van Ark
Series
2009

RuPaul's Drag RaceStream

Guest
Series
2009

DuplicityStream

Actor
Barbara Bofferd
Movie
2009
65%

That Evening Sun

Actor
Ludie Choat
Movie
2009

True BloodStream

Actor
Arlene Fowler
Series
2008
68%

Vicky Cristina BarcelonaStream

Actor
Sally
Movie
2008
80%

DoubtStream

Actor
Christine Hurley
Movie
2008
79%

Ready? Ok!

Actor
Andy Dowd
Movie
2008

Ready? Ok!

Executive Producer
Movie
2008

Private PracticeStream

Guest Star
Yvonne Pierce
Series
2007

The Morning Show With Mike & Juliet

Guest
Show
2007

Lovely by Surprise

Actor
Marian
Movie
2007

etalk

Guest
Show
2006

The Inside

Guest Star
Show
2005

NUMB3RSStream

Guest Star
Series
2005

TransamericaStream

Actor
Sydney
Movie
2005
77%

29th and Gay

Director
Movie
2005

Desperate HousewivesStream

Guest Star
Lucy
Series
2004
72%

LostStream

Guest Star
Emily Linus
Series
2004
86%

Straight-Jacket

Actor
Sally Stone
Movie
2004

Arrested DevelopmentStream

Guest Star
Jan Eagleman
Series
2003
75%

Hope & Faith

Guest Star
Series
2003

Last Call With Carson Daly

Guest
Talk
2002

Law & Order: Criminal IntentStream

Guest Star
Series
2001

Emeril

Actor
B.D. Benson
Series
2001

Law & Order: Special Victims UnitStream

Guest Star
Bella Zane
Series
1999
78%

Judging Amy

Guest Star
Series
1999

GuinevereStream

Actor
Patty
Movie
1999
86%

Sex and the CityStream

Guest Star
Madeline Dunn
Series
1998
70%

Mercury RisingStream

Actor
Emily Lang
Movie
1998
21%

Grace & Glorie

Actor
Charlene Stiles
Movie
1998

Union Square

Guest Star
Series
1997

My Best Friend's WeddingStream

Actor
Mandy Newhouse
Movie
1997
74%

For Richer or Poorer

Actor
Rebecca Yoder
Movie
1997

The Journey

Actor
Laura Singh
Movie
1997

Entertainment Tonight

Guest
News
1981

News aboutCarrie Preston

Carrie Preston as Elsbeth Tascioni in 'Elsbeth' Season 1 Episode 8

Will ‘Elsbeth’ Season 2 Bring Carrie Preston Back to a Courtroom?

Carrie Preston as Elsbeth Tascioni in the 'Elsbeth' Season 1 Finale
Q&A

Carrie Preston Looks Ahead to New Sides of ‘Elsbeth’ in Season 2

Carrie Preston and Michael Emerson attend Paramount+'s
Exclusive

‘Elsbeth’: Carrie Preston on Hopes for Michael Emerson & Stephen Moyer Return in Season 2

Laura Benanti as Nadine Clay, Carrie Preston as Elsbeth Tascioni, and André De Shields as Matteo Hart in the 'Elsbeth' Season 1 Finale
Preview

‘Elsbeth’: Carrie Preston Teases Fashion Case & Tension With Wagner in Season 1 Finale

Laura Benanti as Nadine Clay, Carrie Preston as Elsbeth Tascioni in the 'Elsbeth' Season 1 Finale
Exclusive

‘Elsbeth’ First Look: Laura Benanti & André De Shields Guest Star in Season 1 Finale (PHOTOS)

Carrie Preston as Elsbeth Tascioni — 'Elsbeth' series premiere

‘Elsbeth’ Renewed for Season 2 at CBS

Gloria Reuben as Claudia Pace Wagner and Carrie Preston as Elsbeth Tascioni — 'Elsbeth' Episode 4
Q&A

‘Elsbeth’: Why Gloria Reuben Loves Her Introduction as Wagner’s Wife

Carrie Preston as Elsbeth Tascioni — 'Elsbeth' Episode 4
Review

Roush Review: ‘Elsbeth’ and the Art of the Light Mystery

Wendell Pierce as Captain C.W. Wagner, Carra Patterson as Officer Kaya Blanke, Carrie Preston as Elsbeth Tascioni — 'Elsbeth' Episode 3
Exclusive

‘Elsbeth’ Team Talks Wagner Mystery & Guest Stars, Plus Sneak Peek at Jesse Tyler Ferguson (VIDEO)

Jane Krakowski as Joann Lenox and Carrie Preston as Elsbeth Tascioni — 'Elsbeth'
Exclusive

‘Elsbeth’ First Look at Linda Lavin & Jane Krakowski as Victim & Possible Killer (PHOTOS)

Carra Patterson stars as Officer Kaya Blanke and Carrie Preston stars as Elsbeth Tascioni — 'Elsbeth' Premiere
Preview

Why ‘Elsbeth’ Isn’t a Whodunnit

Carrie Preston as Elsbeth and Wendell Pierce as Wagner in 'Elsbeth'
Spoiler Alert

‘Elsbeth’ Team on Mystery About Wagner & Elsbeth’s Tough Search for the Truth

Stephen Moyer and Carrie Preston — 'Elsbeth'
Spoiler Alert

‘Elsbeth’: Will That ‘Good Wife’ Character Appear? Plus, Inside Fun ‘True Blood’ Reunion

Carrie Preston as Elsbeth Tascioni — 'Elsbeth' Series Premiere
Preview

‘Elsbeth’ Bosses on Expanding Carrie Preston’s Character From ‘Spice to the Main Course’

Carrie Preston as Elsbeth and Wendell Pierce as Wagner in 'Elsbeth'
Preview

‘Elsbeth’ Star Carrie Preston Reveals How ‘Columbo’ Inspired ‘The Good Wife’ Spinoff

Carrie Preston and Jesse Tyler Ferguson attend the 2010 Entertainment Weekly and Women In Film Pre-Emmy Party

‘Elsbeth’: Jesse Tyler Ferguson to Guest Star in ‘Good Wife’ Spinoff

Carrie Preston — 'Elsbeth'
Exclusive

‘Elsbeth’ First Look: Carrie Preston Returns as Unconventional Attorney in ‘The Good Wife’ Spinoff (PHOTO)

Anna Paquin as Sookie Stackhouse and Stephen Moyer as Bill Compton in 'True Blood'

‘True Blood’ Turns 15: Where’s the Cast Now?

Carrie Preston in 'Elsbeth,' Kathy Bates in 'Matlock'

CBS Fall 2023: Watch Trailers for New Dramas ‘Elsbeth’ & ‘Matlock’ (VIDEO)

Kathy Bates at Academy Awards, and Carrie Preston in The Good Wife

‘Matlock’ Reboot Starring Kathy Bates & ‘Good Fight’ Spinoff ‘Elsbeth’ Set for CBS

CLAWS - Carrie Preston

‘Claws’ Star Carrie Preston on ‘Looking for a Way Up and Out One Last Time’

'Claws,' TNT, Season 4 Poster, Judy Reyes as Quiet Ann, Carrie Preston as Polly Marks, Niece Nash as Desna Simms, Jenn Lyon as Jennifer Husser, Karrueche Tran as Virginia Loc

TNT Sets ‘Claws’ Return Date: Get a Sneak Peek at the Final Season (VIDEO)

Harold Perrineau in Claws
Q&A

Harold Perrineau Isn’t Sure Happy Endings Are Possible in ‘Claws’ Final Season

476750_0252_R a

Sneak Peek at a High-Stakes Third Season of TNT’s ‘Claws’ (PHOTOS)

Carrie Preston in Claws
Exclusive

‘Claws’ Star Carrie Preston Talks the Drama of Playing Polly and Her Twin

Niecy Nash in Claws- New Orleans
Preview

The Ladies From TNT’s ‘Claws’ Dish on Season 2 Changes, Their Mani Skills & More

claws cast
Preview

‘Claws’ Returns for Season 2 and the Ladies Are Taking Charge (VIDEO)

Claws - Jack Kesy
Exclusive

‘Claws’: Will Niecy Nash’s Desna Make It Out Alive? (VIDEO)

Carrie Preston

My Obsessions: Carrie Preston Loves the Girl Power of ‘GLOW’ and Samantha Bee

Claws, TNT, Niecy Nash

Niecy Nash’s ‘Claws’ Renewed for Second Season

Claws - Carrie Preston

‘Claws’: 6 Reasons We Love Carrie Preston’s Polly

Claws - Niecy Nash
Preview

‘Claws’: Run for Cover! Uncle Daddy’s Got a Gun (VIDEO)

Claws - Karrueche Tran, Judy Reyes, Jenn Lyon and Carrie Preston

Tough As Nails! A Look Behind the Scenes of Niecy Nash’s New TNT Series ‘Claws’

The Good Fight cast

10 Bold Looks From ‘The Good Fight’

Christine Baranski - The Good Fight

Every Pussy Bow on ‘The Good Fight’ So Far

When We Rise - Key Art
Exclusive

‘When We Rise’ Key Art Released (PHOTOS)

Crowded, Carrie Preston, Mia Serafino, Miranda Cosgrove, Patrick Warburton

The Real-Life Story That Inspired NBC’s New Sitcom ‘Crowded’

The Blacklist - Megan Boone as a blond Liz Keen

Ask Matt: ‘The Blacklist’s Baby on Board, ‘Legends of Tomorrow’ vs. ‘Doctor Who’, ‘Agent Carter’ and More

Person of Interest - Michael Emerson and Carrie Preston - 'Til Death'

Carrie Preston Books ‘Grace and Frankie’ Guest Spot, Returns to ‘Person of Interest’