Carrie Preston’s Long and Enjoyable Road to Lead Lady


Carrie Preston is an acclaimed actress, producer, and director. She has a long list of roles and projects but is most known for her roles as Arlene Fowler in the HBO drama True Blood and Elsbeth Tascioni in the CBS drama The Good Wife. 

She won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series for her work on The Good Wife.

After The Good Wife, she played the same character in the Paramount+ spinoff, The Good Flight.

Now, with the expanding multiverse of The Good Wife, Preston has gone from an accessory to the main event with her role on CBS’s Elsbeth as Elsbeth Tascioni.

It is about time Preston is front and center, and we are here to celebrate her long and delightful road to lead lady!

Early Career

Preston started acting in 1985 as Mint Jennifer in the movie Just a Friend. She was also part of the 1997 hit My Best Friend’s Wedding.

Preston made her TV debut in the mid-1990s with appearances in many different shows.

Carrie Preston - The Good Fight Season 5 Episode 7

Preston’s first recurring TV role was in the sitcom Emeril in 2001. She appeared in various TV shows from then until her next prominent role as Arlene Fowler in True Blood.

These include Spin City, Sex and the City, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Numbers, The Inside, Arrested Development, Lost, and Desperate Housewives.

She has also done her fair share of theatre performances.

Her Broadway debut was in The Tempest, and she later was a part of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Festen, The Rivals, Antony and Cleopatra, and Fran’s Bed, among others.


Her notable film roles aside from My Best Friends’ Wedding include her attention-grabbing roles in Duplicity, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Oscar-nominated Transamerica, That Evening Sun, One of These Days, and To The Bone.

She was also Rebecca Yoder in For Richer or Poorer, Sally Stone in Straight-Jacket, Andrea Dowd in Ready? OK!, and Christine Hurley in Doubt.

Carrie Preston Promo Pic

In the following years, she played Miriam Carswell in 5 Flights Up, Abby in Equity, Aunt Margaret in Daisy Winters, and Sylvia in 30 Miles From Nowhere.

Her most recent movie roles are Jane McAllister in Space Oddity, Dr. Cora Whistler in They/Them, and Lydia Crane in the Oscar-winning film The Holdovers.

Director, Producer, and Activist

Preston has actually also been a director for some time. She has even won awards through her production company, Daisy 3 Pictures.

She founded the company with film producer Mark Holme and writer and director James Vasquez.

Elsbeth leaning over - Elsbeth Season 1 Episode 9

The company says its films are “gay films you can take your Mother to and women’s films with a broad appeal.”

She takes on projects that speak and cling to her that also have an appealing story.

She knows that the representation of LGBTQ+ audiences is important and that they are underrepresented.

Preston understands that films and the media have power. The more diversity we see in both, the more open-minded we can become as a whole.

Women make up more than 50% of the population, and in her eyes, Hollywood should be telling the stories of that percentage as well.

Preston is also the director of Buzz at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival. It is about Buzz Goodbody, one of the first female Shakespeare directors and one of only a few female directors in the UK in the 1970s. 

Carrie Preston on The Good Wife

Her role as Sally Miller Gearhart, a teacher, feminist, and activist, in the docudrama miniseries When We Rise was also very important to her.

The miniseries tells the story of the gay rights movement in the US, beginning with the Stonewall riots in 1969, and chronicles the hardships and triumphs of LGBT activists who played instrumental roles in the civil rights movement.

She has also directed a couple of episodes of Claws, The Good Fight, and Your Honor.

Projects with Michael Emerson

Preston married actor Michael Emerson in 1998, with whom she has worked on numerous projects.

Emerson played Ben Linus on Lost, and Preston guest starred in Season 3 Episode 20 as Emily, Ben’s mother, in flashback scenes.

Michael Emerson and Carrie Preston

They were also featured together in the films Straight-Jacket and Ready? OK!.

On top of that, she was in several episodes of Person of Interest as Grace Hendricks, Emerson’s character Harold Finch’s former fiancée.

In 2010, they read A. R. Gurney’s play Love Letters at the Charleston Stage and performed it as a fundraiser for the theatre.

Noteworthy Series

Her role as Arlene Fowler on HBO’s True Blood was a breakthrough in her career. Arlene was a huge character in the series, and her personality shined.

Elsbeth, Wagner, and Kaya

As a fierce Southern mom, she is witty and says what she wants, even if it means offending others.

She is protective of her kids, and in spite of the character’s flaws, she is devout and loving.

Preston also played a recurring character in the thriller The Following Season 2, as Judy Lang, a prostitute turned admirer of serial killer cult leader Joe Carroll, whom she was trying to reform.

Although it was short-lived, her leading role in NBC’s comedy Crowded, as Martina Moore, put her among stars like Patrick Warburton, Miranda Cosgrove, Mia Serafino, Stacy Keach, Carlease Burke, Betty White, and David Spade.

In TNT’s Claws, Preston plays Polly Marks, an identity thief manicurist. She is strong and hilarious and does not just stop at stealing identities.

Go-Between Polly - Claws Season 4 Episode 9

She also takes on multiple personalities, really showcasing Preston’s acting skills in one character. She lingers between a ferocious menace and a damaged guardian.

She is a complicated character, which allows Preston to show how sophisticated she is.

The Good Wife is the drama that really puts Preston in a whole new perspective in the industry.

Her character, Elsbeth Tascioni, is an attorney whose unique observations and odd personality give her an upper hand and put her at the top of her field with her genius intellectual movements.

She won over the hearts of fans.

Carrie Preston is Elsbeth

The episodes with her character were always favorites and it showed by the fact she was in almost every season of the series after her first appearance, plus she was part of its sequel, The Good Fight.

However, it doesn’t end there. She now, and more than deservedly, has earned her own spinoff called Elsbeth, named after her character.

Everything Preston touches turns to gold, and her newest hit is no exception.

She makes it beyond believable that lawyers, normally seen as serious, can be hilarious, off-beat, and scatterbrained.

Preston has made it almost impossible not to fall in love with her, so much so that fans have gotten exactly what they wanted– more Elsbeth and more Carrie Preston.

Arlene and Daphne

She has spent so long being that face that you know from somewhere but can’t put your finger on.

Even if just in a show or movie for one or two scenes, she makes a lasting impression. The roles she lands and the way she plays them have been so underrated for way too long.

Not everyone can play the type of characters she does, and that alone is a curtain-closing argument for her talent.

You may not know her name and instead know her by the name of one of her many characters, but the point is, you know her, and that is glorious in itself.

She has deserved to be front and center for way too long. Her long list of accolades has brought her to this overdue moment.

Carrie Preston direct long - The Good Fight Season 5 Episode 7

The excitement for Carrie Preston is unreal.

What roles of hers are your favorites?

Comments below and reveal your favorite moments of Carrie Preston in all her glory!

Eve Pierpont is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. You can follow her on X.

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