Carrie Preston is one of those “hey it’s her” actors who pops up in a variety of my favorite shows and movies, always playing someone different, each character as full of life and quirks as the previous one. Tonight, she’s on THE GOOD WIFE, bringing back Elsbeth Tascioni, the deceptively dim lawyer who had helped with Peter’s case back in season 1. She’s back for a whole different reason this time, and Carrie and I had a chance to chat about that, her next two movies, and what is going on with TRUE BLOOD season 5!
THE GOOD WIFE is a show that handles guest stars really well. But when they bring guest stars back, they do it even better. What brings you back this time around?
I have to agree with you about that! I loved the role, when I did the two episodes in Season 1, and then it just ripened over time. When I got this script, I was so excited. It’s just such a delicious role. And this time, it’s Alicia Florrick who hires my character. To come and help her with a very difficult Catch-22 that she’s in with someone she’s defending.
The character, from the get go, seems so fleshed out – she’s got her quirks, she handles herself in a certain way. Is that something that you decide to bring to the role, or something that’s on the paper that you bring to life?
I guess, what you’re describing, it’s the process of a writer meeting an actor, and if it’s a good chemistry, if it’s a good alchemy, you can’t tell if it’s an actor, or the writer, so I take that as a compliment. The writing was very strong. I knew when I got it, I thought, oh this is rare! I really don’t want to mess this one up [laughs]. I really want to make sure that I’m doing exactly what these writers have envisioned. Somehow, they felt, based on things I had done in the past, that I would be the person to live in the skin of this woman, and I was very happy.
Is this a role you could see coming back on a more recurring basis?
Oh it would be wonderful! I would love to come and get into the role periodically from time to time. She’s so different than what I do on TRUE BLOOD. It’s nice to have something so opposite to exercise all my creative muscles!
It’s probably nice to have no devil babies for a while.
[laughs] There’s nothing wrong with that either, haha!
It must be interesting to have these two characters, and have a lot of people not even recognize that it’s you doing both of the roles because of how vastly different they are written and played.
Yes, yes, I definitely find myself in many situations where people are fans of both shows, and don’t realize it’s me. I’ve gotten used to that over my career. At first, I thought, “Oh am I not making any impression at all [laughs],” and then I realized, no that’s something that I do. Kind of disappear in the character, and being an illusionist, which someone called me once, is actually what I set out to do.
Were you a fan of THE GOOD WIFE before you had gotten involved, or is it something you caught up on, after your season 1 guest star spots?
I was a huge fan. Julianna is a friend of mine. We did a Broadway show together, 5 years ago, and we got to be friends. Of course, I started watching it for her, but of course, you know, fell in love with the show immediately. I think it’s so good, so well written, so well done. Beautifully acted, you know. Plus, because I live in New York, I know a lot of people who come on and do guest spots, it’s fun to watch it to see your friends. The bonus is that the show is so wonderful.
Let’s chat about the movies you’ve done over the past few years that are coming up – what can you tell me about BAG OF HAMMERS and SIRONIA?
Both of them, wonderful roles, in very interesting independent scripts. I’m always happy to be involved in those projects that are near and dear to filmmakers hearts and that people are creating, because they are fully committed and compelled to do so. I’m a filmmaker myself, so I love to be a part of that process. Very communal and very exciting. BAG OF HAMMERS was shot a while back. It takes a while for the film to get out into the world when you have to go through all the festivals, and the process of being acquired and distributed and stuff. So I shot that one, I think it was between maybe Season 2 and 3 of TRUE BLOOD. And then SIRONIA actually shot on a weekend, about a year ago, during that shoot of TRUE BLOOD. Both of them are very interesting roles, very different. The woman in A BAG OF HAMMERS is a struggling, feckless, single mother, who is buckling under the pressures of trying to raise her son with no money, with no job prospects in this economy. She rents a room from these two slacker con artist guys who have really no sense of responsibility or consequence in the world, and they become involved in her sons life, and she is very sad, a very tragic character in a way. You see how hard she’s trying, but how really unprepared she is to raise this child. I had to go to some dark places to play that one.
As an actor, I’d imagine it’s difficult to go to that dark place, but it’s also fun to flex that muscle to do something a little different.
It sure is! It’s always understood that if the stakes are high, for your character, then it’s more interesting to play. The higher the consequence, the more interesting the role, the film, playing whatever it is. You couldn’t have gotten much higher stakes in this role [laughs]. It was satisfying to play it, even though I had to go to some painful places. And it was just a nice juxtaposition to some of the more humorous things I do on TRUE BLOOD, and just to do something more serious and naturalistic. And in that same case, with SIRONIA, it was much more naturalistic. The role in SIRONIA is very different than the one in A BAG OF HAMMERS. It was a lot quieter, a lot more subtle, but a wonderful, pivotal cameo, I guess, is what I would call it!
You talk about the humor of TRUE BLOOD – I think a lot of the humor definitely comes from your character, and a lot of the supporting cast that we see week to week. Have you seen the first few scripts for the new year?
We have read the first script. It’s very exciting. There’s already new characters that are being introduced in that epic TRUE BLOOD style. Touches on, you know, 500 storylines in one script, somehow, and manages to somehow make them all work. That’s exciting. We start shooting that one right after Thanksgiving!