|...as Gerry Rankin|
Gerry Rankin & Allan Shaye
|Date of birth|
7 September 1954
|Place of birth|
Cedar Rapids, Iowa, USA
|...as Allan Shaye|
Michael Emerson is an Emmy Award winning actor who played two different characters in Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and Law & Order: Criminal Intent. He played the role of Gerry Rankin in the CI episode "Phantom", and Allan Shaye in the SVU episode "Ritual".
Emerson was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and grew up in the nearby town of Toledo, Iowa. After graduating in 1976 from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, where he studied theater and art, 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, and worked as a teacher and director.
Emerson considered forgoing a career in acting in favor of a more stable vocation in teaching. He decided to instead 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 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, and then followed up with several other notable stage performances. In 1998 he performed opposite Uma Thurman in the off-Broadway production of The Misanthrope. In 1999, he played the part of Willie Oban in The Iceman Cometh. He co-starred with Kate Burton in both Give Me Your Answer, Do! and Hedda Gabler.
In film and television, Emerson made a name for himself playing dangerous, damaged characters. In 2001, he won an Emmy Award as "Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series", for playing the serial killer William Hinks in several episodes of The Practice.
One of Emerson's most well-known works was in 2004, as the character Zep Hindle in the horror movie Saw. In that year he also played the loyal somewhat Alfred Pennyworth-like butler to a Rock Hudson-like heartthrob, Guy Stone, in the comedy film Straight-Jacket.
In 2006, Emerson began a guest starring role playing Benjamin Linus (formerly called "Henry Gale" on the show) on the serial drama television series Lost. This casting was a result of his work on The Practice, as the Lost producers liked his work there, and thought he was a good fit for the character of Ben Linus that they were developing in their own show. Emerson was originally set to appear in a small number of episodes, and then returned for the third season as a main cast member, earning a 2007 Emmy nomination for his work on the series.