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. Quoted as a “scene stealer” by the New York Post, she enjoyed many seasons working on her Critics' Choice nominated and Emmy winning portrayal of “Elsbeth Tascioni” on the award-winning series The Good Wife, her recurring role in Person of Interest, as well as her starring role as “Arlene Fowler,” the red-headed sassy waitress in the Golden Globe and Emmy nominated HBO series True Blood. Preston can now be seen as the magnificent "Polly," in the new TNT hit series, Claws, executive-produced by Rashida Jones. The second season is set to premiere this summer.
In 2016, Preston starred as the female lead in the NBC comedy, Crowded, opposite Patrick Warburton. Last year Preston also appeared in the ABC’s 8-hour LGBT rights-driven miniseries, When We Rise. In film, she most recently starred in To the Bone, alongside Keanu Reeves and Lily Collins. The dark comedy debuted at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival and is now distributed via Netflix.
On the indie film front, Preston starred opposite Brooke Shields in Daisy Winters this past December and was seen in And Then I Go based on the novel “Project X” by Jim Shepard. In 2015, she starred opposite Diane Keaton and Morgan Freeman in 5 Flights Up and was in the coming of age story Beneath the Harvest Sky, as well as Sarah Knight’s Vino Veritas. Prior to those appearances, Preston was seen in a harrowing turn as a struggling single mom in A Bag of Hammers, starring Rebecca Hall and Jason Ritter. She also played opposite Jennifer Connelly and Ed Harris in Dustin Lance Black’s What’s Wrong with Virgina? and had a pivotal role in 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 and her dad was a geo-technical engineer, young Carrie Preston discovered her calling in life lay in performing arts. At 12-years old, she became the impresario of her own front-yard theater company as producer, writer, casting director, costumer, director – and of course, actress. Preston went on to earn a BFA from the University of Evansville and followed it with an acting diploma from the prestigious Juilliard School.
It was Preston’s breakout Outer Critics Award nominated turn as “Miranda” in George C. Woolf’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 Robert’s blockbuster My Best Friend’s Wedding. She went on to win roles in major television series such as Lost and Desperate Housewives, along with scene-stealing turns in Duplicity with Julia Roberts and Clive Owen; 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.
Playing in a crucial role as “Ophelia” in Hamlet 18 years ago at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Preston met her husband, Emmy Award winning Michael Emerson, who was playing Guildenstern in the production. Since then, the two have both starred together in the movies Straight Jacket, Grace & Glorie and The Journey. Keeping it in the family, Preston played Michael’s mother in a flashback on his hit series Lost. Additionally, Michael had a role in the film 29th and Gay, which Preston produced and directed.
Preston’s other theater credits include Broadway: Festen with Jeremy Sisto and Julianna Margulies and The Rivals with Brian Murray and Emily Bergl. Off-Broadway: 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 Romewith Jon Tenney (Lincoln Center); Boys and Girls with Malcolm Gets and Freedomland (Playwrights Horizons); the stage version of Straight-Jacket (Playhouse 91); The Libertine (Theatre Row). She has performed regionally at theaters such 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 Taming 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’s acclaimed production of Hamlet, acting with her husband Michael Emerson. She has also performed in countless Shakespeare plays in 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, and James Vasquez’s Ready? OK!, which she starred in and executive produced, played more than 50 festivals, both domestic and international. Preston won Best Actress 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, starring Anne Heche, Marcia DeBonis and Alia Shawkat. The film made its world premiere at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and was also screened at the Nashville Film Festival 2012 where Preston was honored with two awards for the film: Best Film by a Woman Director and Best Actress Alia Shawkat. Most recently, Preston directed Happy Lucky Golden Tofu Panta 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. In her free time, Preston is an advocate for LGBT rights via GLAAD, and is a supporter for Parkinson's Research.