Article by Dorri Olds. Photo credit: Carrie Preston by Carrie Shawn Flint Blair
You may know Carrie Preston as waitress Arlene Fowler on HBO’s “True Blood,” or for playing the quirky lawyer Elsbeth Tascioni on “The Good Wife,” or Grace Hendricks who plays the love interest to Preston’s real-life husband Michael Emerson on “Person of Interest.” You may also know her as high-strung Judy on “The Following.”
She has also appeared in a number of films and TV shows including Law & Order, and she’s worked in theater. It’s exhausting just thinking about how much she does. She is co-owner of the production company, Daisy 3 Pictures, with partners James Vasquez and Mark Holmes. Originally from Macon, GA, Preston now splits her time between NYC and LA.
Dorri Olds: I’d love to hear about your production company and what type of time and energy that takes?
Carrie Preston: It’s Daisy 3 Pictures and we’ve been making movies for over 10 years now. It is one of the most important parts of my life and in my creative life and my career as well because it really balances out the acting. We made three feature films, shorts, and two web series and music videos. They’re all independent, low-budget affairs but they’re all fully produced and created by us. You get a real sense of satisfaction when you see something built from the ground up. It’s very rewarding. Our latest is our web series called, “Darwin.” If you go to DarwinTheSeries.com you’ll see the first 3 episodes. The rest of the season, episodes 4–12, will be coming out in September.
Do you ever dream in character about scenes in the shows?
I don’t dream in character but I’ve certainly had dreams of being on set. They’re typical actor’s nightmares where you can’t remember your lines, or you’re in the wrong costume. We have these set anxiety dreams that I think are universal. I’ve heard many people who aren’t actors have similar types of nightmares. I’ve certainly had those. But, for the most part, my characters live in the conscious world.
What types of things stress you out?
I worry about getting everything done. I’m a person who if I say I’m going to do something and I set a task it’s very important to me that I follow through and actually do the task. But sometimes I say I’ll do more than I physically can. So I get stressed about the completion of things that I start. I’ve tried to reduce that stress over the years. I’m really trying to be more conscientious about taking on more than I can handle.
Does it get weird working with your real-life husband Michael Emerson?
My husband is one of the best actors I’ve ever seen, much less worked with. So, there’s that. If I was a guest actor and didn’t know him, it would still be a wonderful thing to walk on set and play opposite him. When we got cast on “Person of Interest” we didn’t spend any time rehearsing or really even talking about the characters because we have a history with each other. We’ve known each other a long time; we’ve been together 20 years. We trust each other so those things we didn’t have to manufacture. We were just able to be in the room with each other and do our work.
It was interesting watching him and how he does his job. Every actor has a different process. When I first walked onto the “Person of Interest” set I went over to Michael and started chatting with him. Then I realized he was in character so I thought, ‘Oh, I’m hanging out with Harold Finch right now.’ I just let him do his thing and took my cues from him as I would off of any actor on any show. So I thought, ‘Okay, the guy who plays the lead on that show — who happens to be my husband — likes to be a little quiet and remain focused on the character between takes.’
It’s not strange at all working with my husband. What’s strange is sitting on the couch watching yourself on TV being in love with a guy who is playing another guy who is on TV who is also your husband. [Laughs] The layers can make you giggly.