Michael Emerson won an Emmy Award and earned a Golden Globe nomination for his nuanced performance as Benjamin Linus in the critically acclaimed series, "Lost," proving that being a bad guy can pay off.
More recently, Emerson guest starred on "Parenthood" to great acclaim, playing Amazing Andy, a smart-yet-socially-awkward autistic man hired to entertain at a children's party.
Raised in a small farming community in Iowa, Emerson fell in love with theater while watching a high school production of "Arsenic and Old Lace." His first public success was in the role of a Swedish lumberjack at the state Speech and Debate competition (Humorous Declamation division). He attended Drake University on a scholarship where he majored in Theater. Emerson's slight frame and piercing voice allowed him to specialize in playing old men and eccentrics.
After graduation, Emerson moved from Des Moines to New York, where he struggled to find the path to a professional acting career. Desperate to find some creative line of work, he took classes and began work as a magazine illustrator – a craft he pursued for many years with work published in The Boston Globe and The New York Times. Eventually, his dream of acting could be deferred no longer, and he auditioned for a production of "Othello" in Jacksonville, Fla. Emerson spent the next five years doing plays in various Southern capitals, supplementing his income with work as a landscaper, carpenter, teacher and director.
Eventually, he enrolled in the MFA program at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival in Montgomery. There, while doing a production of "Hamlet," he met Carrie Preston, his future wife. Preston lived in New York, and he once again found himself heading to the "Big Apple." After a slow start, Emerson got his break as the lead in Moises Kaufman's "Gross Indecency," which was acclaimed on both coasts. His portrayal of Oscar Wilde caught the attention of casting directors and he has since appeared in numerous projects for both stage and screen. Emerson made his Broadway debut in 1999 in "The Iceman Cometh," and went on to appear in "Hedda Gabler," opposite Kate Burton. Since then, he's appeared in a number of Off-Broadway and regional stages.
Emerson made his television debut playing serial-killer William Hinks on "The Practice," winning the 2001 Emmy Award for Best Guest Performance in a Dramatic Series. His other television credits include guest appearances on "Without a Trace," on the Network, "Law & Order," "The X-Files" and a role in the acclaimed cable film "The Laramie Project."
On the big screen, Emerson is most often recognized for his roles in "Saw," "The Legend of Zorro," "The Imposters" and "Straight Jacket." In 2008, he received critical acclaim for his role in "READY? OK!," a story of a gay teen's struggle for acceptance by his family and community.
Emerson is keen on Shakespeare and classical theater, drawing and ghost stories. He supports Off-Broadway theater and theater community charities (Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and Gay Men's Health Crisis), as well as publicly-supported radio stations. Emerson and his wife Carrie Preston live in New York City. Emerson's birth date is Sept. 7.