Is it too early to start an Emmy campaign? Carrie Preston reprised her role as the brilliant and funny Elsbeth Tascioni on last night’s The Good Wife. But Preston’s stint on the show doesn’t end there: Elsbeth returns in the March 3 episode where she continues to represent Eli Gold (Alan Cumming) in his case against the Department of Justice. Preston called up EW to chat about her role on the series and settle once and for all: Is Elsbeth a secret genius?
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What can you tease about the March 3 episode, “Going for the Gold”?
CARRIE PRESTON: Well I haven’t seen the cut, but you’re going to see some fun stuff between Elsbeth and Kyle MacLachlan’s character [Josh Perrotti]. I’m excited to see how they’re going to put it together.
Do Elsbeth and Josh go out on that date?
Well…let’s just say there’s a very fun scene at a restaurant between the two of them.
In your previous guest appearances, you’ve worked mostly with Alicia, Will, and Diane. So what was it like to work with Alan Cumming’s Eli Gold?
Alan Cumming is such an amazing performer and person. So just being with him and getting to know him was such a treat. He’s one of those inspiring people who always has a million things on his plate and somehow masters all of them. And to see him—this creative person—in action was quite inspiring. Also, I think the writers have a good time putting [Elsbeth and Eli] together because they are both kind of on the fringes of Lockhart/Gardner in a way. The stakes are always really high for both of them. His function on the show is different from the other lawyers, so I think that it was a clever thing to put him and Elsbeth together.
Elsbeth and Eli really seem to get along with each other, which is surprising because Eli is such a tough guy to please.
He’s always slightly impatient with Elsbeth, but I think he realizes there’s a kindred genius spirit in there that he can relate to. He, himself, is a bit of a mastermind when it comes to working on Peter Florrick’s campaign. Eli’s got this amazing gift, so he can recognize the gift in Elsbeth.
So is Elsbeth really a secret genius?
I don’t think it’s a secret. I don’t know if Elsbeth ever thinks of herself that way, but her mind is definitely very nimble. She will spend just as much energy in her mind looking at someone’s outfit as she will trying to solve a case. Both of those things get equal attention in her mind, and that’s what makes her so delightful. I like to call her a scatterbrained genius. She’s someone who can actually have that many thoughts going on in her mind and still get things done.
What’s your favorite part about playing Elsbeth?
For me, it’s exciting because it’s so different from what I do on True Blood, which is my main job at the moment. To be able to go from a buxom, kind of sassy, brassy waitress from rural Louisiana to an urban, brilliant, mercurial lawyer is such a fun twist for me. Also The Good Wife writing is so strong. Not that the writing’s not strong for me on True Blood, it is. But when I come on as Elsbeth, she definitely makes an impact on what’s going on around her. So it’s fun to be trusted with that kind of storyline.
Is there anyone on the show you want to work with, but haven’t yet had the opportunity to?
I’ve worked with all of the regulars, but I haven’t spent very much time with Matt Czuchry’s character, Cary Agos. It would be fun to see the two of them together, and just to see how he would take her in. Cary always seems to have a secret, so I’m sure that Elsbeth would be trying to figure out what that secret is.
Any other projects you’re working on right now?
I have a recurring role on Person of Interest, which is my husband’s [Michael Emerson] show. I play the love of his life. It was really fun to do that. A couple of the episodes have aired already this season. And [I come back] in one of the last couple of episodes of the season. I think the fans are going to have something to look forward to there, because there’s some interesting things that are revealed.