A mild-mannered preppy who works as a manicurist at the nail salon. Polly has recently been released from prison, where she did time for identity theft on seniors. Beneath that southern gentility beats the heart of a con artist and master manipulator.
Through her insatiable passion for the arts and natural gift as both a comedic and dramatic actress, Emmy® winner Carrie Preston has landed standout roles from the stage to the big screen. Hailed as a scene stealer by the New York Post, she enjoyed many seasons working on her Critics' Choice Award-nominated and Emmy-winning portrayal of Elsbeth Tascioni on The Good Wife; her recurring role in Person of Interest; and her starring role as sassy, red-headed waitress Arlene Fowler in the Golden Globe®- and Emmy-nominated HBO series True Blood. Preston also appeared as a recurring character in the Showtime series Happyish.
Preston most recently was seen starring in the NBC comedy Crowded, opposite Patrick Warburton, Miranda Cosgrove and Mia Serafino. In addition to her starring role in TNT's Claws, she will soon be seen playing a lead role in When We Rise, ABC's eight-hour miniseries about the gay rights movement. And she will appear in the independent film To the Bone, alongside Keanu Reeves and Lily Collins.
Preston's recent credits include starring in 5 Flights Up, opposite Diane Keaton and Morgan Freeman; the coming-of-age story Beneath the Harvest Sky; Sarah Knight's Vino Veritas; A Bag of Hammers, with Rebecca Hall and Jason Ritter; Dustin Lance Black's What's Wrong with Virginia?, opposite Jennifer Connelly and Ed Harris; and the indie film Sironia, starring Jeremy Sisto, which premiered at the Austin Film Festival.
Born and raised in Macon, Georgia, where her mother was an artist and art therapist while her dad was a geotechnical engineer, Preston discovered her true calling in life lay in the performing arts. At the age of 12, she became the impresario of her own front-yard theater company as producer, writer, casting director, costumer, director and, of course, actress. She later obtained a bachelor's degree from the University of Evansville, followed by an acting diploma from the prestigious Juilliard School.
It was Preston's breakout Outer Critics Circle Award-nominated turn as Miranda in George C. Wolfe's Broadway production of Shakespeare's The Tempest, with Patrick Stewart, that led her to her auspicious big screen debut as one of the two sexy southern bridesmaid sisters in the Julia Roberts blockbuster My Best Friend's Wedding. She went on to play roles in major television series, such as Lost and Desperate Housewives, along with scene-stealing turns in Duplicity, with Julia Roberts and Clive Owen; Woody Allen's Vicky Christina Barcelona; the Oscar®-nominated Transamerica, as Felicity Huffman's sister; Alan Ball's Towelhead, opposite Aaron Eckhart; and the critically acclaimed independent film That Evening Sun, with Hal Holbrook.
Preston met her husband, Emmy winner Michael Emerson, while playing Ophelia in Hamlet at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival. Since then, the two have starred together in the movies Straight Jacket, Grace & Glorie and The Journey. Keeping it in the family, she played Emerson's mother in a flashback on his hit series Lost. Additionally, he had a role in the film 29th and Gay, which Preston produced and directed.
Preston's other theater credits include the Broadway productions of Festen, with Jeremy Sisto and Julianna Margulies, and The Rivals, with Brian Murray and Emily Bergl, along with off-Broadway productions of Antony and Cleopatra at the Public Theater (cross-dressing as Octavius Caesar to Vanessa Redgrave's Cleopatra); Cycling Past the Matterhorn, with Shirley Knight; John Guare's Chaucer in Rome, with Jon Tenney at the Lincoln Center; Boys and Girls, with Malcolm Gets and Freedomland at Playwrights Horizons; Straight Jacket at Playhouse 91; and The Libertine at Theatre Row. She has performed regionally at such theaters as The Guthrie, where she played Honey opposite Patrick Stewart and Mercedes Ruehl in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?; Williamstown, where she played opposite Bebe Neuwirth and Roger Rees in The Taming of the Shrew; Baltimore Center Stage, where she originated the lead role in Warren Leight's No Foreigners Beyond This Point; The Long Wharf, where she played Mia Farrow's daughter in James Lapine's Fran's Bed; and the McCarter Theater, where she acted with husband Emerson in an acclaimed production of Hamlet. She has also performed in countless Shakespeare plays at festivals in Georgia, Alabama, Utah and California.
Preston is also a director and producer with her production company, Daisy 3 Pictures. Her directorial debut was the feature film 29th and Gay, written by and starring James Vasquez, which is available on DVD. She also directed the short film Feet of Clay, by David Caudle, which made the festival rounds. James Vasquez's Ready? OK!, which she starred in and executive-produced, played more than 50 festivals, both domestic and international. Preston won the Best Actress award at Film Out San Diego, where the film had its world premiere. She also directed and produced That's What She Said, a feature film written by Kellie Overbey and starring Anne Heche, Marcia DeBonis and Alia Shawkat. The film made its world premiere at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and was screened at the 2012 Nashville Film Festival, where it was honored with awards for Best Film by a Woman Director and Best Actress for star Alia Shawkat.
Most recently, Preston directed Happy Lucky Golden Tofu Panda Dragon Good Time Fun Fun Show, which premiered at Soho International Film Festival. The film stars comedian Kate Rigg and the electric violin-fueled poetic punk duo Slanty Eyed Mama.
Preston and Emerson travel back and forth between Los Angeles and New York with their adopted dog, Chumley.