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EXCLUSIVE: Why Carrie Preston Was 'Concerned' Elsbeth Didn't Fit in on 'The Good Fight'

by Philiana Ng 7:00 AM PDT, March 17, 2017
Photo: CBS All Access

Carrie Preston wasn’t anticipating playing Elsbeth Tascioni, the quirky lawyer who became everyone’s favorite scene stealer on The Good Wife -- ever again. But The Good Fight spinoff changed all that.

“I always loved playing her when I was on The Good Wife, and I had already said goodbye to her and mourned the loss of this great role I got to play,” Preston tells ET of her lovable, extremely astute alter ego, who returned in last Sunday’s episode. “I was obviously thrilled when [creators Robert and Michelle King] called me up and asked me if I could come and do an arc for them.”

Though it’s been over a year since Preston, 49, slipped into Elsbeth’s shoes, finding her unique ticks and endearingly erratic charm was a familiar process.

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“It always takes me a moment to get back into her rhythm because she’s operating at a much higher [frequency] than anyone else,” she admits. “It always takes me a second to remember how her brain works and it takes me a little bit longer in preparation before I go to set, just mapping out her thought processes.”

Preston was aware of how special -- and rarely seen -- a character like Elsbeth is on television, unafraid and unapologetic of being a little left of center.

“It’s exciting for me as an actor who likes to transform. I really enjoy finding ways to become a chameleon and become different types of characters, and I look for ways to differentiate myself from characters that I play,” she said. “With Elsbeth, it was a wonderful creation and blend of my willingness to take chances with writers who were willing to meet me halfway and create this kind of combustible chemistry. I was in collaboration with people who were ready to play ball.”

Many of the elements of the new series hold similarities to The Good Wife, but as Preston found out, The Good Fight carries a slightly darker tone, causing her to worry -- though mostly unnecessarily -- about how Elsbeth, someone who gravitated toward the cheery side, fit in.

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“With Elsbeth, she’s pretty consistent in how she approaches things, at least up until now,” Preston said, revealing that she often consulted with producers to ensure Elsbeth’s track was still in line with The Good Fight. “From the beginning, she made an indelible print on the tone of [The Good Wife] -- whenever she would come on, it would shift. I was concerned that I would be too far out of the universe that this was. I could tell when I first walked onto set and reading the script and seeing how things were being approached, that it did have a more somber tone.”

On The Good Fight, Preston’s Elsbeth begins representing Diane Lockhart’s goddaughter, Maia Rindell (Rose Leslie), after suspicions arise that her father, embattled financial guru Henry Rindell (Paul Guilfoyle), may be trying to incriminate her and the law firm at which she’s employed.

“You sometimes don’t know if she’s manipulating someone or not,” Preston said of Elsbeth. “Her level of brilliance is [such that] she gets excited going up against someone like [Mike Kresteva, played by Matthew Perry] because it’s a challenge for her. Some things come very easily for her, albeit circuitously, but when she gets challenged, it revs her up in a good way.”

This Sunday’s installment shows Elsbeth going to great lengths to get the answers needed to help fight the good fight.

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“You’ll see in the next couple of episodes, she starts to employ some tactics that might not be walking the straight and narrow herself,” Preston teased.

As for the chance she’ll be back for the recently announced second season, Preston was hopeful.

“If I’m lucky enough for them to invite me back and I’m available to do it, I would do anything to be there again,” she said.

The Good Fight premieres new episodes Sundays on CBS All Access.

For more on the show, watch the video below.

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