||This article's lead section may not adequately summarize key points of its contents. (September 2014)|
Emerson in 2007
September 7, 1954 |
Cedar Rapids, Iowa, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Carrie Preston (m. 1998)|
Michael Richard Emerson (born September 7, 1954) is an American film and television character actor who is best known for his roles as serial killer William Hinks on The Practice, Benjamin Linus on Lost, Zep Hindle in the first Saw movie and currently as Harold Finch on the CBS series Person of Interest.
Emerson was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, the son of Carol (née Hansen) and Ronald H. "Ron" Emerson. He grew up in the nearby town of Toledo, Iowa, where he attended South Tama County High School. In 1976, after graduating from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, where he studied theater and art, and a semester (Fall 1975) at the National Theater Institute at The Eugene O'Neill Theater Center,  he moved to New York City. Unable to find acting work, he took retail jobs and worked as a freelance illustrator. In 1986, he moved with his first wife to Jacksonville, Florida. There, from 1986 to 1993, he appeared in local productions at Theater Jacksonville and The Players by the Sea and worked as a director and teacher at Flagler College.
Emerson considered a career in acting in favor of more stable work as a teacher. He decided instead to further his studies with a Master of Fine Arts that might also introduce him to theatre professionals and directors in his chosen trade. In 1993, he enrolled in the Alabama Shakespeare Festival's University of Alabama-sponsored Master of Fine Arts/Professional Actor Training program; and, upon graduating in 1995, he returned to New York where he appeared in the annual Alabama Shakespeare Festival showcase.
Emerson got a starring role in 1997 as Oscar Wilde in Moises Kaufman's critically acclaimed off-Broadway play Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde, and then followed up with several other notable stage performances. In 1998, he performed opposite Uma Thurman in the off-Broadway production of Le Misanthrope. In 1999, he played the role of Willie Oban in The Iceman Cometh with Kevin Spacey. He co-starred with Kate Burton in both Give Me Your Answer, Do! and Hedda Gabler.
In 2006, Emerson began a guest-star role as Benjamin Linus on the serial drama television series Lost. This casting was a result of his work on The Practice because the Lost producers liked his work there and thought he was a good fit for the character they were developing. Emerson was originally set to appear in a small number of episodes, then returned for Season 3 as a main cast member and eventually became a main antagonist of the program. He received an Emmy nomination in the "Outstanding Supporting Actor" category in 2007 for his work in the third season and was nominated again in 2008 for his role in the fourth season. He won the award in 2009 after being nominated for his role in the fifth season. Emerson was nominated in 2009 for a Golden Globe in the "Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role" category. He was nominated for an Emmy for each season in which he was listed in the main cast.
Emerson met actress Carrie Preston (graduate of the prestigious drama programs from The University of Evansville and Juilliard), while he was performing in a stage production of Hamlet in Alabama. They married in September 1998, and both Emerson and his wife starred in Straight-Jacket (2004). On Lost, Preston portrayed Emily Linus, Emerson's character's mother, in the flashback sequences of the episode "The Man Behind the Curtain". The two teamed up again, with Emerson portraying Preston's gay next-door neighbor, in the film Ready? OK! (2008). According to a 2009 interview, Emerson is also interested in making a guest appearance with Preston on the TV series True Blood, where she plays waitress Arlene. Most recently, she has appeared in several episodes of Person of Interest as Grace Hendricks, the former fiancée of Emerson's character, Harold Finch.
On July 31, 2010, Emerson and Preston read A.R. Gurney's Love Letters, which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for Drama, at the Charleston Stage. They performed it as a fundraiser for the Stage, a South Carolina theatre. The reading was followed by a brief and intimate Question and Answer session.
Emerson was set to reunite with former Lost cast member and friend Terry O'Quinn, in a comedy-drama tentatively titled Odd Jobs, by J.J. Abrams. It was expected to start filming by the end of 2010, but further development of the show has been postponed. Emerson has since joined the cast of another Abrams series, Person of Interest, that debuted in September 2011 on CBS. He plays a billionaire who teams up with a supposedly dead CIA agent to fight crime in New York City.
He is a long-time supporter of the charities connected to the theatre community, including the Actors Fund, Broadway Cares, and Off-Off Broadway, in addition to publicly supported radio stations and Habitat for Humanity.
|1990||Orpheus Descending||Clown||Television movie|
|1998||The Impostors||Burtom's Assistant|
|1998||Grace & Glorie||Arnold Dudley||Television movie|
|1998||Playing by Heart||Bosco|
|1999||I'll Take You There||Tom|
|1999||For Love of the Game||Gallery Doorman|
|2001||Sounds from a Town I Love||Unknown||Television movie|
|2002||The Laramie Project||Reverend|
|2005||29th and Gay||Gorilla|
|2005||The Legend of Zorro||Harrigan|
|2006||Jumping Off Bridges||Frank Nelson|
|2008||Ready? OK!||Charlie New|
|2010||Goldstar, Ohio||Steve Harper|
|2012||The Dark Knight Returns Pt. 1||The Joker (voice)||Straight-to-Video|
|2013||The Dark Knight Returns Pt. 2||The Joker (voice)||Straight-to-Video|
|1999||Stark Raving Mad||Mr. Putnam||Episode: "The Psychic"|
|2000||The District||Man in Bar||Episode: "Pilot"|
|2000–2001||The Practice||William Hinks||6 episodes
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series
|2001||The Education of Max Bickford||Unknown||Episode: "Herding Carts"|
|2002||Law & Order: Criminal Intent||Gerry Rankin||Episode: "Phantom"|
|2002||The X-Files||Oliver Martin||Episode: "Sunshine Days"|
|2003||Without a Trace||Stuart Wesmar||Episode: "Victory for Humanity"|
|2003||Skin||Scarpelli||Episode: "Secrets & Lies"|
|2003||Whoopi||F. Thomas Erickson||Episode: "The Fat and the Frivolous"|
|2004||Law & Order: Special Victims Unit||Allan Shaye||Episode: "Ritual"|
|2005||The Inside||Marty Manning||Episode: "Pre-Filer"|
|2006–2010||Lost||Ben Linus||79 episodes
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor on Television
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series (2007–08, 2010)
Nominated—Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film (2006–07)
Nominated—Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor on Television (2007, 2009–11)
Nominated—Teen Choice Award for Choice TV Villain
|2007||Lost: Missing Pieces||Ben Linus||2 episodes|
|2010||Front Line||John Winthrop||Episode: "God In America"|
|2011||Parenthood||Andy Fitzgerald||Episode: "Amazing Andy and His Wonderful World of Bugs"|
|2011||G.I. Joe: Renegades||Doctor Venom||Episode: "The Anaconda Strain"|
|2011||Generator Rex||Alpha Nanite||Episode: "Ben 10/Generator Rex Heroes United"|
|2011–present||Person of Interest||Harold Finch||63 episodes|
- Othello, University of North Florida
- Noises Off (as Gary), Theatre Jacksonville, 1986 or 1987
- Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare at the Met, 1987
- The Importance of Being Earnest, Arkansas Repertory Theatre, 1990
- Parts Unknown, Players-By-The-Sea Theatre, Jacksonville Beach, Florida, 1993
- Hamlet (as Hamlet), Players-By-The-Sea Theatre, Jacksonville Beach, Florida
- The Tempest (as Ferdinand), Alabama Shakespeare Festival, 1994 or 1995
- The Way of the World (as Lady Wishfort), Alabama Shakespeare Festival, 1994 or 1995
- Hamlet (as Rosencrantz), Alabama Shakespeare Festival, 1994 or 1995
- All's Well That Ends Well, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, 1994 or 1995
- Henry IV, Part 1, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, 1994 or 1995
- A Christmas Carol, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, 1994 or 1995
- The Crucible, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, 1994 or 1995
- Amadeus, Arkansas Repertory Theatre, 1995
- Androcles and the Lion, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, 1995 or 1996
- Gross Indecency: The Trials of Oscar Wilde (as Oscar Wilde), Minetta Lane Theatre, off-Broadway, 1997–1998
- The Misanthrope, Classic Stage Company, 1998
- The Iceman Cometh (as Willie Oban), Brooks Atkinson Theatre, 1999
- Give Me Your Answer, Do! (as David Knight), Gramercy Theatre, off-Broadway, 1999–2000
- Hedda Gabler (as George Tesman), Williamstown Theatre Festival, Main Stage, 2000
- Hedda Gabler (as George Tesman), Ambassador Theatre, Broadway, 2001–2002
- Only the End of the World (as Louis), Theatre 3, off-Broadway, 2002
- Frequency Hopping (as George Antheil), Hourglass Group, 2002
- Tartuffe (as Cleante), American Airlines Theatre, Broadway, 2003
- Measure for Measure (as Duke Vincentio), California Shakespeare Theater, Orinda, California, 2003
- Someone Who'll Watch Over Me, The Ridgefield Playhouse for Movies and the Performing Arts, 2004
- Hamlet (as Ghost, Claudius, Osric, and Guildenstern), McCarter Theatre Center, Princeton, New Jersey, 2005
- Bach at Leipzig (as Schott), New York Theatre Workshop, 2005
- Likeness, Primary Stages Theater (307 W. 38th Street), 2008
- Every Good Boy Deserves Favour (as Alexander), Chautauqua Theater Company, 2008
- Love Letters (as Andrew Makepeace Ladd, III), Charleston Stage, 2010
- In 2000, played the unnamed narrator character in the radio play adaptation of the Neil Gaiman short story, Murder Mysteries.
- In 2001, participated in a Woody Allen short called "Sounds From a Town I Love" which aired on television during The Concert for New York City and depicts people talking on their cellphones as they walk around New York City.
- In 2003, participated in a staged reading of a play involving string theory written by Jacquelyn Reingold called String Fever at Rockefeller University.
- In 2003, was the voice of George Washington in Favorite Son, an experimental documentary film about the relationship between George Washington and Alexander Hamilton.
- In 2005, narrated audio book CD of Robert Penn Warren's novel All the King's Men.
- In 2006, narrated audio book CD of The Amalgamation Polka by Stephen Wright, published.
- In 2007, with other Lost cast members, he participated in a play-reading session at the Tenney Theatre in Hawaii to raise money for the Honolulu Theatre for Youth.
- In 2009, narrated a reading of "Babar the Elephant" with the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra.
- Co-narrated with Peter J. Fernandez, the audio book version of James Patterson's novel, Four Blind Mice.
- Co-narrated with John Rubinstein the audio book of the novel Private Sector by Brian Haig.
- Narrated the Neil Gaiman American Gods novella The Monarch of the Glen (from Fragile Things) in volume III of an audio book series called "Legends II: New Short Novels by the Masters of Modern Fantasy" .
- Won - 53rd Primetime Emmy Awards (Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series) for playing "William Hinks" on The Practice, 2001.
- Nominated - 59th Primetime Emmy Awards (Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series) for portraying Ben Linus on Lost, 2007.
- Nominated - 60th Primetime Emmy Awards (Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series) for portraying Ben Linus on Lost, 2008.
- Won - 61st Primetime Emmy Awards (Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series) for portraying Ben Linus on Lost, 2009.
- Nominated - 62nd Primetime Emmy Awards (Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series) for portraying Ben Linus on Lost, 2010.
- Nominated - 67th Golden Globe Awards (Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television) for portraying Ben Linus on LOST, 2010.
- Won - 34th Saturn Awards (Best Supporting Television Actor) for portraying Ben Linus on Lost, 2008.
- Nominated - 35th Saturn Awards (Best Supporting Television Actor) for portraying Ben Linus on Lost, 2009.
- Nominated - 36th Saturn Awards (Best Supporting Television Actor) for portraying Ben Linus on Lost, 2010.
- Nominated - 37th Saturn Awards (Best Supporting Television Actor) for portraying Ben Linus on Lost, 2011.
- Michael Emerson Biography
- Drake University theatre Overview (with Noted Alumni).
- Interview on The Morning Show with Mike & Juliet, March 8, 2007
- Audio commentary for "The Man Behind the Curtain, Season 3 DVD set of Lost.
- "Primetime Emmy Nominations for 2009". Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Retrieved 4-10-2012.
- "Primetime Emmy Award Database". Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 4-10-2012.
- "Ben Linus Wants A True Blood Cameo". Io9.com. 2009-03-18. Retrieved 2012-05-21.
- Jackson, Erica (2010-08-03). "Prime-time stars chip in for Charleston Stage fundraiser | The Scene". Charleston City Paper. Retrieved 2012-05-21.
- Andreeva, Nellie (2010-02-16). "Lost'sMichael Emerson Reunites With J.J. Abrams In CBS Pilot Person Of Interest". tvline.com. Retrieved 2011-02-17.
- Charlie Patton (1999-05-16). "If he can make it there...". The Florida Times-Union. Retrieved 2008-03-24.
- "Theatre Jacksonville, season 67". Theatre Jacksonville. Retrieved 2008-03-25.
- Charlie Patton (2001-05-06). "Nocturne at Twilight". The Florida Times-Union. Retrieved 2008-03-25.[dead link]
- "Letters to the Editor, "Cheers for Michael"". First Coast Community. 1999-06-12. Retrieved 2008-03-30.
- "Emerson's career took him through Montgomery". The Anniston Star. 2008-01-31. Retrieved 2008-03-15.
- "Primetime Emmy® Award Database". Emmys.com. Retrieved 2012-05-21.
- "HFPA - Nominations and Winners". Goldenglobes.org. Retrieved 2012-05-21.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Michael Emerson.|
- michaelemerson.tv/ Official Website
- Meet Michael Emerson An Unofficial Website
- Michael Emerson at the Internet Broadway Database
- Michael Emerson at the Internet Movie Database
- Michael Emerson at the Internet Off-Broadway Database
- Interview at Blender.com
- ABC.com bio
- Michael Emerson: The Huffington Post Interview