How did you two meet?
Michael Emerson Seventeen years ago, during a production of Hamlet at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival. I was studying at the conservatory and playing Guildenstern. Carrie came down from New York to play Ophelia.
Carrie Preston Before I knew it, there were little vases of fresh flowers and baskets of peaches waiting outside my door. Michael had a peach tree. He was very romantic.
Your relationship was long-distance for a long time when Michael was in Hawaii shooting Lost. Was that hard?
Emerson They didn’t tell me how long I would be there. It was like working for the CIA. I left with only a suitcase. At one point they let me come home to New York, and when I got to JFK Airport, I got a text saying, ”You must turn around and come back.”
Preston The Island stole my husband for four and a half years! But it was fun to see him wearing Billabong shorts. [Laughs]
What was your policy on sharing Lost spoilers with your better half?
Preston I didn’t want them! I was a fan. Michael didn’t even watch the show! I had to tell him what it was about. But sometimes when I visited him, I couldn’t help getting the spoilers.
When you watch each other’s shows, do you see a different person from the one you’re married to?
Preston Yeah, when he did The Practice, he was playing a horrible character who cut off women’s heads. The first time I saw that, I turned to him and said, ”Please do not look at me like you looked at that woman. Ever.” It was terrifying! I get caught in his stories, and he’s so good as Finch that he makes it easy.
Emerson I watch her play Elsbeth and I think, ”My wife is a comic genius? What the hell?” I cannot stop laughing. She’s dizzy like a fox. [Turns to Carrie] It’s almost like it isn’t you!
Have you ever given each other acting advice?
Emerson When she was auditioning for Antony and Cleopatra, she was supposed to bring a monologue from the play, but there were no good women’s monologues. So I said, ”Do Octavius.”
Preston I cut off all my hair and played it totally in drag. People thought I was a boy! I got the part.
What pop culture have you introduced each other to?
Emerson Carrie is a forward-looking person and I am backward-looking, so she will bring me new shows and new movies, and I’ll say, ”Watch this old black-and-white British thing.”
Preston I’ll listen to indie music like Au Revoir Simone, and he’ll put on Lord Buckley. Do you know who that is? [Silence] Exactly!
Are there any plans for you to appear on each other’s shows?
Preston No, not right now. But we’ve worked together before [in movies like 2008’s Ready? Ok!], and it’s fun. We didn’t have to worry about trust or establishing a history because that was already there.
If you were in a sitcom together, what would it be about?
Emerson A couple of completely self-involved, over-the-top actors in the 1920s, or two actors who have decided to give it all up and move to a quiet life in a small town. But they just. Can’t. Stop. Being. Fantastic!