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Michael Emerson

Michael Emerson is an American actor. He was born on September 7, 1954 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and grew up in Toledo, Iowa, where he was a member of his high school marching band. He graduated in 1976 from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, where he majored in Theater and minored in Art. He studied for a semester at the National Theater Institute at The Eugene O'Neill Theater Center, then moved to New York City. Unable to find acting work, he took retail jobs and worked as an illustrator. In 1986, he moved to Jacksonville, Florida, where (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. After several years of work including illustration and teaching, Emerson earned a Master of Fine Arts degree at the University of Alabama in the Alabama Shakespeare Festival acting program.

Emerson is best known for his roles as Benjamin Linus in the ABC series Lost (2006–2010), as Harold Finch in the CBS series Person of Interest (2011–2016), and as Dr. Leland Townsend in the Paramount+ thriller series Evil (2019–2024). Other prominent roles include Zep Hindle in the horror film Saw (2004) and the recurring role of Cayden James in The CW series Arrow (2017–2018).

Emerson has won two Primetime Emmy Awards, one Guest Actor in a Drama Series award for portraying William Hinks in The Practice (2000–2001), and the second a Supporting Actor in a Drama Series award for his role in Lost, which he also received three other Primetime Emmy nominations for.

Emerson has also worked extensively in theatre, notably originating the role of Oscar Wilde in Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde from 1997 to 1998, portraying Willie Oban in the 1999 Broadway revival of The Iceman Cometh, and playing Guy in the debut production of Will Eno's Wakey, Wakey in 2017.

Emerson has been married to actress Carrie Preston since September 5, 1998. They married in her hometown of Macon, Georgia.

Known For


Cast Credits

Fallout (2024)
Guest starring as Wilzig
My Adventures with Superman (2023)
Guest starring as Brainiac
Evil (2019)
Starring as Dr. Leland Townsend (34 episodes)
The Name of the Rose (2019)
Starring as The Abbot (8 episodes)
Claws (2017)
Guest starring as Ted
The Mystery of Matter: Search for the Elements (2015)
Starring as Narrator (3 episodes)
The Arsenio Hall Show (2013)
Guest starring as Michael Emerson
Arrow (2012)
Guest starring as Cayden James (7 episodes)
Person of Interest (2011)
Starring as Harold Finch (103 episodes)
Parenthood (2010)
Guest starring as Amazing Andy
Rachael Ray (2006)
Guest starring as Michael Emerson
Lost (2004)
Starring as Ben Linus (47 episodes)
Guest starring as Henry Gale (9 episodes)
Without a Trace (2002)
Guest starring as Stuart Wesmar
Law & Order: Criminal Intent (2001)
Guest starring as Gerry Rankin
  • Episode 1x16: Phantom (Mar 17, 2002)
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (1999)
Guest starring as Allan Shaye
  • Episode 5x14: Ritual (Feb 3, 2004)
The Practice (1997)
Guest starring as William Hinks (6 episodes)
The X-Files (1993)
Guest starring as Oliver Martin
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