Interview: Carrie Preston
Every once in a while, a character will appear on a series and become and instant fan favorite. One such character is Elsbeth Tascioni.
Elsbeth originally appeared on the hit CBS series The Good Wife and made an impression immediately on the show’s fans. That character’s instant popularity can be attributed to good writing and most importantly, the work of the multi-talented Carrie Preston.
The extremely busy actress should be no stranger to fans of film and television. She may be most known for her work as the lovable Arlene Fowler from the HBO series True Blood. She’s also made appearances on shows such as Persons of Interest, Happyish, The Following and most recently on When We Ride and the short-lived NBC comedy Crowded alongside Patrick Warburton. On the big screen, she’s appeared in films such as Duplicity, Doubt, The Legend of Bagger Vance and The Stepford Wives.
We sit down with Carrie to talk about bringing this character back to life, was it easy or hard to slip back into the character and what the future may hold for Elsbeth Tascioni.
Pop Culture Principle – Can you talk about when you were approached to reprise Elsbeth Tascioni's for The Good Fight?
Carrie Preston – Usually when you are on a show as a guest, they don’t contact you until the episode before you come on. I didn’t know until they were already well into their shooting and then they contacted me somewhere around the second or third episode.
Pop Culture Principle – Did you ever have any doubt that you would play this character again?
Carrie Preston – Of course. I always have doubts because you never know how things are going to line up and my schedule was very busy. We are kind of in a proprietary business and if somebody happens to be owning you at the time, sometimes they don’t like to lend you out. But for me, luckily it all worked out and I was able to get in there and do these three episodes at the perfect time. I was very excited and grateful that they called me to do the show.
Pop Culture Principle – Was it easy for you to slip back into this character?
Carrie Preston - It always takes a beat for me to get back into her rhythm because she’s just not like the other kids. I always have to remember how to get into her mercurial mind and figure out her twists and turns, but it came back pretty quickly and the writing is always so wonderful. I just trust the writing to take me where I need to go.
Pop Culture Principle – When Elsbeth has her first meeting with Reddick, Boseman, & Kolstad, she’s in the hospital. Do you have any idea why she was there or did the writers tell you anything?
Carrie Preston – It was in a dentist’s office and Elsbeth likes to find a good deal on offices and I guess they were running a special over at the children’s dentist, so that’s how she ended up over there. She did say that she was in the hospital, but in true Elsbeth fashion, she often doesn’t share all the details. The details are in her brain, but they might not come out of her mouth. No one told me why she had been in the hospital, but I’d like to think it’s more interesting to have that remain a mystery.
Pop Culture Principle – Elsbeth seems to have this certain rhythm and cadence to her speech. Would you agree?
Carrie Preston – Yes and that’s definitely by design. The pauses are written into the script most of the time and so I then figure out how it is those pauses are being filled, which is up to me. I love that part of what’s happening between all the thoughts and how does she get from one thought to the next. I think most of the time those thoughts have nothing to do with one another, but in Elsbeth’s mind, they have absolutely everything to do with each other.
Pop Culture Principle – Why do you think this character resonated so much with fans of The Good Wife and now fans of The Good Fight?
Carrie Preston – I guess it’s the same way that I am fascinated with her. People who are fans of hers are just curious as to how she ticks. It’s her mind that I think we are all attracted to and keeping up with her kind of pace. I also think that many of us know people who are operating on different frequencies than anyone else and you don’t usually get to see those types of people on television and I think that people are taken with it for that reason as well. I’ve had so many people come up to me and tell me that this character reminds them of their mother or a friend or a teacher, so I guess there are Elsbeths running around the world.
Pop Culture Principle – In her first impromptu meeting with Mike Kresteva, it seems he really underestimated her, but soon learned she is a player. Would you agree?
Carrie Preston – Yes, definitely. I don’t think he really gets it until he comes into his house and sees her in the kitchen with his wife and then realizes that she’s going to be a challenge.
Pop Culture Principle – What can fans of The Good Fight look forward to with your three-episode arc?
Carrie Preston – Well, she’s up against Mike Kresteva who is not really operating from a place of honesty. So, I think she herself walks the line between what is legal and what is not ethical. She twists a couple of things to fit what she needs it to fit.
Pop Culture Principle – Will these three episodes be the last we see of Elsbeth?
Carrie Preston – I wish those things were up to us as actors, but they are not. I am hoping that they give me a call and have me back in their world again and assuming I am available, I will be there in a heartbeat.
Pop Culture Principle – If any television character screams their own spinoff series, it would be Elsbeth Tascioni. Would you agree and would you be open to the idea?
Carrie Preston – Thank you. I would love that. It would be great. If it were up to me, I’d be playing this character all the time.
We would like to thank Carrie Preston for sitting down and talking with us. You can catch new episodes of The Good Fight every Sunday exclusively on CBS All Access. If you would like to keep up with all of Carrie's latest news, projects and her social media, you can visit her official website here.
**Photos courtesy of Elizabeth Fisher/Patrick Harbron/CBS**