In the second half of our interview with cover girl, Carrie Preston, ATG finds out Carrie thrives on being creative. Her multi-faceted character makes Carrie a powerful addition to the Hollywood scene and her eclectic resume of life achievements can connect to entrepreneurs, Girl Scouts, and Raisinets lovers alike. (Find Part One of our Interview with Carrie here.)
What have you learned from working with a performer like Anna Paquin who has been acting since she was a child?
Anna is a consummate actor, and she’s also a wonderful cast leader. When I’m working with her, I’m always aware of her enviable ease in front of the camera. I learn by watching how gracefully and professionally she navigates the demands of such a large role.
How do you keep in shape with such a demanding schedule?
Mostly, I get my cardio from hiking, either outdoors or on a treadmill. And I do pilates twice a week. I also try to eat a balanced diet. But I do have a sweet-tooth that I have to keep an eye on!
What’s your “go to” meal when you’re filming?
I try to eat protein when I’m working because I find that it keeps me going for a long time. So I definitely have a protein breakfast of scrambled eggs and lean turkey bacon. And lunch is usually grilled chicken and salad or veggies.
Out of all the “roles” you have played in your life, which have you liked best? Directing, Acting, Business Owner (Daisy 3 Pictures), Drama Student, Wife…
Would I be avoiding the question if I said I loved them all? Each of these “roles” has impacted my life in a really meaningful way. Above all, of course I love the life my husband and I have built together. But part of what makes us work is that we are both fulfilled in our creative lives. And my acting career has certainly informed the work that I have done as a director/producer. All of these “roles” are connected.
Tell us all about your movie “That’s What She Said”.
I have a production company called Daisy 3 Pictures. I started the company in 2004 with one of my classmates from Juilliard, James Vasquez, and his partner Mark Holmes. Our third feature film, which I directed, is “That’s What She Said”. It was written by Kellie Overbey and stars Anne Heche, Marcia DeBonis and Alia Shawkat. We premiered at Sundance in January and have been doing tons of festivals. I like to call it a wo-mance. It’s the female answer to all of the ubiquitous bro-mance films that have dominated the comedic landscape for a long time now. It was acquired by Phase 4 Films for domestic distribution and will come out in theaters on October 19th!
As a director, how do you translate a story on paper into an on-screen visual tale?
The script was a play first, which I directed several years ago. It took us almost 8 years to finally put it on the screen. I think in general, film provides us with a profound escape and yet holds up a mirror to us at the same time. With “That’s What She Said”, I wanted the audience to get lost in these women, with these women, up close and personal, flaws and all, and then see themselves in them too. I wanted them to feel like they were the forth chick sitting at the table with the three main characters. So I let that guide me in how I visually directed the film.
How exciting – and nerve wracking – was it to be a part of Sundance Film Festival?
Sundance was a dream come true. I liken it to having your kid get into Harvard. I was just so proud to be there as a filmmaker and not an actor. It’s a whirlwind of an experience. But the houses were packed for all of our screenings, and the audiences really dug the film. We got distribution from being there ,which was the main objective. It was such a humbling, and at the same time empowering, experience.
Tell us about the experience of directing such an eclectic group of actors in “That’s What She Said”?
Well, we started with such a special script. Marcia DeBonis had been in the stage version, and I knew I wanted to capture her performance on screen. At first that’s what really drove me to get the movie made. Kellie Overbey (screenwriter and actor in the film) had done a Broadway show with Anne Heche years before, so she was friendly with her. Luckily Anne just fell in love with the script. Anne is the one who suggested Alia Shawkat, actually, because they had done Cedar Rapids together. We offered it to Alia and she jumped on board. I just feel really, really blessed and they were all extremely game. The chemistry between the three of them was pretty extraordinary. We never had a moment where the actors weren’t prepared and game and passionate about what we were doing. So the shoot went extremely well, largely because of their talent.
You are involved in the New Harmony Project which fires up aspiring writers and actors to nurture their passion and share their unique voice with the world. What inspired you to attend this supportive event?
I have been on the board of the New Harmony Project for 8 years now. I first attended it as an actor way back in 1993. It was started 25 years ago by a core group of like-minded artists, one of which was my undergraduate acting teacher and mentor, John David Lutz. We nurture writers and scripts that explore the human journey by offering hope and showing respect for the positive values of life. In some way, each of the scripts we choose names, celebrates, honors and praises order in the midst of chaos; life in the midst of death; atonement in the midst of separating hatred; liberty in the midst of oppression; sacrifice in the midst of vanity; and spirit in the midst of corruption. I think that’s a very important and noble undertaking, so that’s why I support it.
It was a real bummer to find out you were not nominated for an Emmy in 2012. After you work so hard during the year, of course, it is lovely to be honored for your stellar performance. How do you keep your head up? (a big piece of cake, working out, a fun night out with the husband or your friends) Do you celebrate your success of the year in other ways?
I feel like I got more attention for NOT getting nominated than I would have if I HAD gotten nominated! So I am obviously flattered and humbled by the outrage on my behalf. Michael and I have a healthy attitude about such things. We celebrate each other’s work all the time and feel lucky that we love what we do and get to practice what we have worked so hard for. But yes, we do clink glasses over a great meal now and then to celebrate!
What is the most challenging part of maintaining privacy in this digital age? Do you feel you are sometimes too accessible to fans or not accessible enough?
I enjoy the social networking aspect of this job. I really like twitter, especially. It’s a great way to get the word out about our projects or to share a thought or support another person or charity. It’s quick and efficient, and I feel like I have been able to only share the things that I feel comfortable sharing. People on the street who come up to me are generally very excited and complimentary, which can really make me feel good. It’s nice to know that the hard work is being received positively.
Many of our readers are creative types who want to be sitting where you are today. What advice would you give to aspiring artists?
I would strongly encourage them to study their art somewhere, either at a university or in classes somewhere. I use my training every single time I step on a set or on stage. It’s a life-long process of learning.
I’m a bottle red head and have been dying to ask; how do you keep your color so vibrant?
Yes,it’s a lot of maintenance, but it is worth it! I get my color done every three weeks. In LA I go to Gavert Atelier in Beverly Hills, where the custom color was created. And in NY, I go to the Angelo David salon, who uses the same formula. I also have the salon mix some of my color in with some shampoo, and I use that every other wash.
What projects are on the horizon for you?
I will hopefully be doing a few more episodes of “The Good Wife”, continuing to play the brilliantly nutty Elsbeth Tascioni. I also hope to return soon to “Person of Interest” as Mr. Finch’s (played by my real life husband Michael) ex-fiance. I have two indie films that recently came out, “A Bag of Hammers” and “Virginia” (available on itunes, VOD, netflix, etc…) Also, a film I did last summer called “Vino Veritas” will be making the festival rounds soon. I am heading to Maine next month to do a couple of scenes in an indie called “Blue Potato”. And the pilot for a web series I created, wrote and star in will be premiering at the New York Television Festival (NYTVF) in October. And of course I’m putting a lot of energy into the release of “That’s What She Said” on October 19th!
Photos by Shawn Flint Blair