"I like to say she's 'dizzy like a fox'," says Carrie Preston about Elsbeth Tascioni, the breakout character she plays on CBS' Emmy darling "The Good Wife." "She's very very smart, but I like to think of her as someone who has so many thoughts in her head that her body and her mouth and the rest of her can't really keep up."
On the surface, Elsbeth comes across as ditzy, scattered, dithering and vague. However, over the course of the last two seasons, the attorneys of Lockhart Gardner have sought her out to assist on some of their more sensitive matters, and Elsbeth has shown her true colors as a razor sharp, calculating and cunning legal eagle.
In a video chat with Gold Derby, Preston admitted, "People ask me, 'Is it an act that she's putting on, is she acting like she's ditzy?' and although the writers have never said anything either way, in my opinion it's much more interesting that she's not putting it on, she just is that way, the way a lot of brilliant people are."
Over the past three seasons, "The Good Wife" has become a magnet for actors working in New York City, much like "Law & Order" was over the last two decades. Its roster of guest stars include Michael J. Fox (nominated for his role on the show last year), Matthew Perry, Anika Noni Rose, Bob Balaban, Bebe Neuwirth, Eddie Izzard and Martha Plimpton, All of them went toe to toe with the show's formidable cast led by Emmy winners Julianna Margulies, Christine Baranski (who won for "Cybill" in 1995) and Archie Panjabi, and Emmy nominees Josh Charles and Alan Cumming.
To stand out in such a crowded field of contenders is no easy feat, but Preston has made an indelible mark on the show in just a few appearances. This season she was singled out by Ken Tucker (EW) who raved that, "Preston was playing, as she has here in the past, what could have been a stock figure - the crafty person who masks the craft in eccentric hesitation ... [but] she imbued the role with a quirky rhythm all her own." She is also prominently featured in the show's Emmy campaign as one of only four guest actors put forward by CBS for consideration (the others are Fox, Perry and Rita Wilson).
"Out of nowhere," is how Preston described her reaction when show creators Robert King and Michelle King approached her to reprise the role. As she explains, "one episode turned into two, turned into three, turned into four, and so clearly the chemistry was just right."