If you still don’t know who Carrie Preston is, you’re just not trying. The busy actress currently has featured roles on three high-profile shows, including HBO’s “True Blood,” in which she plays outspoken Merlotte’s waitress Arlene Fowler, the girlfriend of Terry Bellefleur (Todd Lowe).
“We have not seen the last of Patrick, played by Scott Foley, who came on at the very tail end of Season 4 and cast a shadow on Terry’s past,” she tells Zap2it. “We weren’t sure whether he was going to be benevolent or malevolent or what his reason for being there was, but you could tell Terry definitely had mixed feelings about it. And this season is very much about Terry’s past.”
Preston garnered even more attention this past season when she reprised her recurring guest role as Elsbeth Tascioni, the kooky but brilliant attorney who saved Will’s (Josh Charles) bacon in “The Good Wife.” Watch for the character, a fan favorite, to return again next season.
“It’s very rare that you read something and you think that it was just written for you to play, and I felt that way the minute I read that character,” Preston says of Elsbeth. “I didn’t have to audition, and frankly, I think if I had, I might not have gotten it. They wrote this really wonderful role and saw something in me specifically from my performance in ‘Duplicity,’ where I had this wonderful standout character. Elsbeth is just a gift.”
She’s also expected back next season on “Person of Interest,” where she made a fleeting appearance recently as the former fiancee of Finch (Michael Emerson, Preston’s real-life husband). The couple first met while doing a production of “Hamlet” at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival. “He was always playing multiple characters,” she recalls. “It was his talent I noticed first.”
Born: June 21, 1967, in Macon, Ga.
Education: BFA from the University of Evansville (Ind.) and an acting diploma from the Juilliard School in New York
Family ties: Her father was a geotechnical engineer, her mother an artist and art therapist. Two siblings (brother John G. Preston is also a professional actor).
Film credits: Include “Sironia,” “Duplicity,” “Doubt,” “Ready? OK!” “Towelhead,” “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” and “Straight-Jacket,” among many others
Coming up: Produced and directed the female buddy comedy “That’s What She Said” for her production company; roles in the movie comedies “Vino Veritas” and “Heated Rivalry”
Favorite book: “I’m very interested in Buddhism, and there’s a book by Pema Chodron that is called ‘When Things Fall Apart.’ For me, it’s a book that I keep revisiting because there is such wisdom about how to deal with life, especially if there are challenges. She is a wonderful writer, and she makes Buddhist thought very accessible to Westerners.”
Favorite movie: “I’ve always been a huge fan of ‘Paper Moon.’ It was so wonderful watching Ryan and Tatum O’Neal working together before you knew all the madness that went on with the two of them. The direction is just flawless, and Madeline Kahn’s performance is one of my favorites, of anybody’s. She’s one of my favorite actresses, too.”
Favorite record: “That’s tough, because you want different music for different experiences. Rickie Lee Jones‘ ‘Pirates’ has stayed with me through all these years. I would definitely bring that to the desert island. Her voice conveys so much emotion and character, and her lyrics are just pure poetry. I never tire of listening to them, and as the years go by I find that I reinterpret the songs.”