Name Michael Emerson
DOB September 7, 1954
Place of Birth Cedar Rapids, IA
Current Residence New York City, NY and Honolulu, HI
College Drake University, 1976; MFA from the University of Alabama, 1995
Family 1 younger brother, sister, father, mother
Marital Status Married his first wife in 1986 and was divorced in 1993. Married his second wife, actress Carrie Preston, in September of 1998.
Early Life, Education and Career
Michael Emerson was born in Cedar Rapids , Iowa and grew up in the neighboring town of Toledo , Iowa . After graduating from Iowa ’s Drake University (where he majored in Theater and minored in Art) in 1976, 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 acted in local productions and worked as a teacher and a director.
Emerson considered giving up acting in favor of a more stable career as a teacher, but instead decided to find an MFA program that would help introduce him to professionals in theater and a higher grade of directors. In 1993, he enrolled in the Alabama Shakespeare Festival’s University of Alabama-sponsored Master of Fine Arts/Professional Actor Training program. After graduation, Emerson returned to New York and appeared in the annual Alabama Shakespeare Festival showcase.
Michael finally got his big break in 1997, when he starred as Oscar Wilde in Moises Kaufman’s critically acclaimed off-Broadway play, Gross Indecency: The Trials of Oscar Wilde.
In the following years, Emerson has continued to act on stage. He has displayed his talents opposite Uma Thurman off-Broadway in The Misanthrope in 1998 and as Willie Oban in 1999’s The Iceman Cometh with Kevin Spacey. He costarred with Kate Burton in both Give Me Your Answer, Do! and Hedda Gabler.
Successful in television and film, Michael has appeared in episodes of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Without a Trace, and The X-Files. He offered a memorable performance as (fictional) confessed serial killer William Hinks in several episodes of The Practice, for which he won a 2001 Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series. In 2006, he began a guest-starring role playing Benjamin Linus (formerly called “Henry Gale” on the show) on the American television show LOST. Originally set to appear in a small number of episodes, Emerson returned for the third season as a main cast member. On the big screen he has appeared in such films as Saw (in which he played the character of hospital orderly Zep Hindle), The Legend of Zorro, The Laramie Project, Playing by Heart, The Imposters, and Jumping off Bridges.
According to ABC.com’s bio, Michael’s hobbies include Shakespeare, the Greeks, verse, black-and-white films, black-and-white drawings, bluegrass, world crafts and ghost stories. He is a long-time supporter of the charities that are connected to the Theater community—Actors Fund, Broadway Cares, Gay Men’s Health Crisis and Off-Off Broadway, as well as publicly supported radio stations, and Habitat.
Michael has been married to actress Carrie Preston since 1998, and they both had roles in the movies Straight-Jacket, Grace & Gloria and The Journey, as well as an episode of the short-lived television crime drama The Inside. Michael Emerson also had a small role in the film 29th and Gay, which Carrie Preston produced, directed, and edited. Both Michael Emerson and Carrie Preston are in the popular TV Show LOST. Michael is playing Ben Linus, the enigmatic leader of the Others, and Carrie Preston is in the episode, “The Man behind the Curtain.” She plays his mother and can be seen during a flashback.
by Shannon, A.K.A. Flummery