Carrie Preston



While most actors dream of landing a recurring spot on just one of TV’s hottest shows, Carrie Preston stars in four of them… Ok, to be fair, she was starring in four of them, until – spoiler alert – her character, Judy, was off-ed by James Purefoy’s terrifying Joe Carroll on FOX’s  The Following a few months back…so now, technically, it’s only three. But seriously, the woman is still a scheduling superstar.

“I spend as much time figuring out the logistics [of it all] as I do actually working… I’m just one of those multi-taskers. I sometimes say it’s my superpower.”

No argument there… However, as millions of prime-time viewers know, the actress’s gifts are hardly limited to organization. In fact, despite maintaining what for most people would be a punishing schedule at best, Ms. Preston still manages to imbue each of the extremely different women she plays with a heart and soul that is wholly her own. Like Elsbeth Tascioni on CBS’s ratings juggernaut, The Good Wife

“This is [someone] who lives in her head and approaches the world that way,” she says proudly. “Elsbeth doesn’t try to curtail her thoughts even though she has so many, and that makes it so much fun to play her. I really enjoy the kind of mercurial, scatterbrained way that she works.”

And clearly, Preston’s peers enjoy the seamless way in which she expertly disappears inside this quirky lawyer. So much so, in fact, that Preston was awarded the Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series last September for her work, something she still can’t believe actually happened.

“To have been lifted out of that incredible school of people and singled out for my work was kind of extraordinary and humbling. It’s a testament to that show in particular, though, because everyone on it is so wonderful. They should all get trophies!”

The gracious Emmy-Winner never misses an opportunity to praise the talented casts and crews that she works with. After all, this Julliard–trained thespian, who cut her teeth in NYC theater before conquering the small screen, knows that it takes a village to make a production come alive. But there’s one co-star of hers for whom she’s reserves the highest adulation: “I play the love of my husbands’ life [on CBS’s Person Of Interest]. It’s not that much of stretch, though, because obviously I’m playing someone who is in love with Michael Emerson…which I just so happen to be.” That’s Michael Emerson, the Emmy-Winning star of The Practice and Lost, whose current pulse-racing procedural just happens to be one of the highest rated dramas on television.

The two have been married for almost 16 years, yet despite working harmoniously together onset, they attempt to maintain a strict no shop-talk at homepolicy … even when it comes to dropping spoilers. “Sometimes we can’t help it.  It’s like, ‘What did you do at work today, honey?’  ‘Well, a vampire exploded on me,’ or ‘I went and had to go chase down a bad guy on top of a building.’ I really don’t like to know what’s going to happen, though, and so I always make him stop talking when he starts to tell me too much.”

It’s a unique problem to have, but no doubt par for the course when you’re one half of an undeniable television power couple, or when you each star in programs that literally define water cooler television… Like HBO’s unabashedly pulpy, genre-busting megahit, True Blood, on which Preston has played feisty, colorful, and tragically unlucky in love Merlotte’s waitress, Arlene Fowler Bellefleur, since episode one back in 2008.

At that time, the supernatural subject matter was still considered ‘fringe,’ or ‘genre’ at best (the Twilight-induced current vamp craze had not yet erupted), but the actress knew there was something special about the show, even if she wasn’t entirely sure what that was. “When I first read the script, I didn’t know what to think of it. On the page it obviously was excellent because Alan Ball is one of our greatest writers, but I couldn’t figure out tonally what it was going to be. I remember the first time I saw the pilot, though – realizing, We haven’t seen this quite yet! Is it a drama? Is it horror?  The answer is that it’s all of those things, and that’s what I think made it sing.”

Not just sing, but belt… to the tune of almost 6 million viewers a week at its peak. Yet for all the rabid fanfare, the actress (herself a Southerner, hailing from Macon, Georgia) is most proud of the dynamic, decidedly complex characters that Ball and his team were able to create. “A lot of Southern characters, I feel, often get stereotyped in Hollywood, and we are guilty of that a bit on True Blood for sure, but [the writers] really try to make the characters specific, and so someone like Arlene isn’t simply a generalized racist southerner. Yes, she starts off narrow-mined and definitely designed to serve up humor on the show, but throughout the seasons, the writers have really shaped her and given her real tragic things to deal with.”

Like the loss of her most recent husband and soul mate, the sweet but tormented Terry Bellefleur (Todd Lowe). Now, with True Blood heading into its 7th and final season, and the cast and crew only halfway through filming, Preston remains tight-lipped about what the future will bring for Arlene. But for herself, she sees an emotional end to a very special chapter in her life.

“The other day they had us all in to shoot a special for the series finale, so it was the original cast and Alan Ball and Brian Buckner, who’s our current showrunner, in a roundtable situation talking about the whole series and going back and reminiscing. That was a moment that I wasn’t prepared for, and I found myself getting very emotional and I thought, Ok, I do need to start thinking about the fact that this thing I’ve been doing for seven years is going to be gone in a matter of months.”

Gone, but certianly not forgotten…and fortunately for Carrie Preston, her copious TV work, a role opposite Diane Keaton and Morgan Freeman in the upcoming feature, Life Itself, and a web series (Darwin: The Series) that she directs and produces promise to keep the talented triple threat wielding that multi-tasking superpower of hers for years to come.






Production Bello media Group | WORDS BY BRAD LIBERTI

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