Carrie Preston on ‘Elsbeth’ and When the “Alchemy Between the Writing and the Actor Started to Gel”

Preston recalls her first appearance on 'The Good Wife', remembering that she "was there as a guest to serve the bigger story, so I didn’t know how far I was being encouraged to go."

Actor Carrie Preston as Elsbeth

Emmy Award-winning actress Carrie Preston first played the trial lawyer Elsbeth Tascioni on The Good Wife and has continued to portray the popular character on The Good Fight and now on the character’s own spinoff, Elsbeth. In an interview with Variety, Preston spoke about playing the character over an extended period from a guest star to a leading role and how she developed her characterization of Elsbeth over the years.

Preston says that she re-watched her first appearance as Elsbeth on The Good Wife to prepare for the spinoff. She recalls, “I was there as a guest to serve the bigger story, so I didn’t know how far I was being encouraged to go. A couple of seasons later, when they bring me back, I think that was when we all found the flow with the character. The alchemy between the writing and the actor started to gel.”

Additionally, Preston points out that she was fascinated by her character’s “pauses” written into the show’s scripts. She continues:

“In the very first couple of scripts, they just wrote the word “pause” in parentheses, and I became more interested in what the pause was than what the words were. I started thinking, what is happening in that pause? What if there’s something that’s firing in her brain that nobody else knows? What if they were completely opposite from what I’m about to say?

“Then they stopped writing the pauses, but I started figuring out where the twists and turns are. I started thinking of it almost like creating a map that I would follow: What am I thinking? What is my body doing? And what am I saying? If all three of those things are at odds, it makes her fun to play, and hopefully surprising to watch.”

Though Preston has directed episodes of television before, including episodes of The Good Fight, she admits that she does not think she’ll be able to handle double-duty on Elsbeth, explaining, “I don’t know how people who play leads direct themselves. I would think that would make me feel pretty crazy. I like to throw myself into one or the other if possible. I’m not saying I won’t consider it if we’re lucky enough to have future seasons of this show. But for this season, I’m just trying to play the role of Elsbeth Tascioni as best as I can.”

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