AWARDS SEASON 2008   THE POPCORN REEL  AWARDS SEASON 2008

 

THE ACTING PROCESS: BREAKING OFF FRAGMENTS OF LAURA LINNEY, CHARACTER BY CHARACTER
 

 

photo of Breach,  Laura Linney       
 

photo of  Laura Linney     
Four Faces Of Laura:  Laura Linney (clockwise, from top left) as FBI Agent Kate Burroughs in "Breach", as Eleanor Green in "Man Of The Year", as Claire in "Jindabyne", and, as herself, offscreen.
 

 

Working at a Savage Pace Means There's No Cinematic Rest for Laura Linney
 

"The Savages" actress talks about her big screen alter ego Wendy Savage
and other incarnations she has inhabited over the last year or so, and acting
 


By Omar P.L. Moore/PopcornReel.com


December 20, 2007


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Taller, slender and strikingly more beautiful in person than onscreen, Laura Linney, dressed elegantly in a dark navy blue pinstriped suit and gray t-shirt, warmly greets her two interviewers -- one of whom is Michael Guillen of The Evening Class -- encouraging them to fire away with questions.  Her presence on a Friday in what is a late September afternoon in San Francisco, is both warm and gently commanding, if there is such a combination exists.  Other than Josh Brolin, Samuel L. Jackson and Morgan Freeman (who between them had major roles in no less than 14 films in 2007), Laura Linney has been the busiest, hardest working actor in the American film business over the last year or two.  At this very moment her soft blue eyes engage as she fixes direct but pleasant glances at her questioners.  Later on, Ms. Linney will on two occasions politely shoo away her time-conscious publicist to continue conversing with the journalists -- she has been laughing and smiling throughout the interaction, talking about work and the family of actors she builds emotional landscapes and dilemmas with.  This offscreen Laura Linney is 180 degrees from Wendy Savage, the self-deluded, emotionally distant onscreen persona who turns tail and runs through a brick wall called self-destruction when family crisis calls, in Tamara Jenkins new film "The Savages", a funny, lacerating satire with dramatic undercurrents pinging from the screen throughout, about a dysfunctional brother and sister who have to take care of their ailing, misanthropic and abusive father, who at best has treated them more rotten than an apple's two-week old rotting core.  "The Savages" opened last month in New York and Los Angeles and opens on Friday, December 21 in San Francisco as well as other U.S. cities, just in time for the onslaught that is awards season.

 

Despite her hectic schedule -- anyone who ventured to a movie theater over the last twelve to fifteen months in the United States or Canada cannot have missed Laura Linney -- in 2007, in "Breach", "Jindabyne", "The Hottest State" and "The Nanny Diaries" in addition to "The Savages" -- and in 2006, "Driving Lessons" and "Man Of The Year" -- Linney explains that she will take a break from films (she has wrapped filming on James Ivory's "The City of Your Final Destination", starring Anthony Hopkins and Alexandra Maria Lara, which hits screens in 2008, and will be in HBO's epic TV-film miniseries "John Adams", also next year.)  While Ms. Linney plans to be in a play or musical in New York in February, she may be more involved in film than she anticipates, as her performance as Wendy Savage has been hard for several film critics and awards boards to resist, including receipt of an Independent Spirit Awards nomination.

 

So with all of those film personas to juggle one would think that Linney, who made her debut on the world's stage in New York on February 4, 1965, would want to disengage completely when she is away from her job.  Asked whether Linney believes that any of the film characters she has played have taught or motivated her to improve the real life Laura Linney, she answers: "They all help me.  I'm fortunately one of those people who's able to work and then go home.  I keep working at home.  When you're working on a film it's non-stop because you're constantly simmering, ideas are constantly coming to you, you're daydreaming and fantasizing about the character and circumstance, maybe something technical or maybe something about their background; but, I think I learn from all of them."  Even while there is every certainty for the Academy-Award nominated actress that Claire from "Jindabyne" will never run into Eleanor from "Man Of The Year", Linney believes that she has a familiarity with these alternate beings.  "They're like people I've met in my past," she says. 

 


Laura Linney as Wendy Savage, with Philip Seymour Hoffman as Jon Savage, in "The Savages", directed by Tamara Jenkins.  The film opens in additional U.S. cities including San Francisco, on December 21.  (Photo: Andrew Schwartz/Fox Searchlight)
 

Linney has accomplished much in the last 16 years, and for someone whose big screen career essentially began with small roles in films like "Lorenzo's Oil" in 1992, she still considers herself a student of the craft.  "The joy of being a perpetual student . . . is what I treasure the most about what I get to do," she adds.  Of all the incarnations she has given life to on stage, screen and film, it is that of Mary Ann Singleton from the three-part "Tales Of The City" television mini-series based on Armistead Maupin's novels on life, love and adventure in San Francisco, that Linney has treasured most.  She learned a substantial amount from Maupin, whom she considers "one of the most important people in my life."  On playing Singleton she says that "if there is a character and an experience . . . that I enjoy carrying around with me, it's that one.  A lot of that has to do with that [being] an extremely important experience for me.  It was the first thing I did on film in front of the camera [where] I was on from beginning to end.  I learned an enormous amount.  The friendships I made during that are lifelong friendships."  While she relives the memory of playing the Tales character Linney also fondly mentions the late Stanley DeSantis, who played Norman Neal Williams, declaring him "one of my best friends in the world."  The Tales experience resonates deeply within her: "It was an extremely important, very happy time and I loved playing her.  There was a sense of joy and excitement about it and a lightness, which I treasure.  Tales is something that I don't want to let go of."

 

For any performer there is arguably part of a character that stays in the psyche long after they've finished with it, and each experience is different and unique.  For veteran actors, or relatively new thespians like Ms. Linney, the learning experience is new on each occasion.  For "The Savages" there was initially uncertainty as to whether she or Philip Seymour Hoffman would even be in Tamara Jenkins' film, and Linney expresses gratitude to the director for sticking with her guns and standing by both performers (Mr. Hoffman, a busy actor himself over the last year or so with roles in "Mission: Impossible III" and more recently "Before The Devil Knows You're Dead", was recently nominated for a Golden Globe for his role as Jon Savage in Ms. Jenkins' film.)  In preparing for her immersion into Wendy Savage, a character the actress terms "a mess . . . not your typical protagonist", Linney describes the process of becoming, and the secrets of discovery that a good script provides.  "With films that have spectacular scripts, those are the ones where you sit with the script the most because you know there's so much in there and—like a really good detective—you've got to find it.  You know it's in there somewhere.  It's maybe not in the script but it's in you somewhere and through the script [you'll be prompted] to think about things and you'll follow a line of thought and then you'll get to an answer, which will illuminate a lot about a character." 

 

Linney underwent substantial preparation to play Wendy, a writer who believes she has won a major literary prize, in fact insists that she has.  Wendy's relationship choice during the film is questionable, and it's fair to say that she is nothing less than a malfunctioning engine that has removed itself from a deadly train wreck and dusted herself off, continuing to chug, chug away, completely aloof to any semblance of the carnage that she may have caused.  Wendy has, at best, a contentious relationship with older brother Jon Savage (Hoffman) on top of everything else, and she has to do much arm-twisting to get him to even think about placing their boorish abusive father Lenny (played by Philip Bosco) into an assisted living facility.

 


DOUBLE TAKE   On film's limitations where the organic development of interaction and a free-flowing, uninterrupted performance is concerned: "With film, you're never really going to get that.  You can get a semblance of that and at times—if you connect with your actors and if you connect with the script—then you can go deeper than most films.  But a lot of times you feel like you're sliding on ice."  -- Laura Linney


 

To become Wendy, to get to this point in an acting journey for Linney means relishing a sojourn that provides riveting moments of enjoyment, not unlike the discoveries made during a treasure hunt, or the completion of a jigsaw puzzle.  "It's almost one of my favorite parts of the process, that sort of hunting and finding the answers.  You're like, "Why?  Why does this happen?  Why?"  And then really finding an answer.  Not the why of just because she does this; but to find the real origin of behavior."  Specifically for Wendy there was no directorial influence on Linney to cultivate the mannerisms and subtle behaviorisms that she employs.  What you see in "The Savages" and specifically in Wendy Savage, Linney explains, is a product of her own work, which because of the collaborative process, is naturally influenced by the other actors in the film.  "Certainly my relationship to Phil [Hoffman], he'll say something that will affect you and you respond to it physically in a way and the characteristics will develop.  There's different phases.  There's the script stuff, which I sort of love because it's private and you usually have time and it's your own personal connection to the script; the real intimate work that you do just with yourself and the script.  Then, there's the phase where you're putting everything together.  Decisions are being made about costume, look, design, those things, and that's another layer that will influence you.  Then, there are the other actors, which is the greatest of all.  Everything will contribute and effect.  Everything will have a cause and effect.  Everything that comes into will add on; they'll be another layer and another layer.  Hopefully, you get to a point where the script starts to work on you.  You are no longer working on the script.  The script is working on you.  And it's a fantastic moment." 

 

There's a scene in the film where a theater stage is shown, with all its attendant players, and it is a key and touching moment in Ms. Jenkins' film, and perhaps apropos, for all three of the film's trio of lead performers have been weaned on the Broadway stage in New York City, with Mr. Hoffman also directing the play "Our Lady of 125th Street" most recently.  Of the stage experience, Linney intimates that the eureka moments of film are only supplanted by the frequency of the same moments on stage.  That kind of magic, she says "happens in theatre a lot; the moment where it lifts off and the play will work on you.  Then things start to really gel and deep connections are made that you're not generating, that just sort of grow and happen.  That's difficult to do on film sets because you just don't have the time if you're working with an actor and a script that is accessible and rich and giving and complex.  That's when the pinball machine really starts to go."  She laughs heartily as she says this, and the thrill of reaching nirvana in acting is thoroughly satisfying.  She likens this moment of bliss to what can safely be termed the "yes!" moment in team sports, even as she says, "[w]hile I was certainly never an athlete, I can sort of imagine that there are those moments in soccer, in basketball, in football, in synchronized swimming, whatever, where there's a collective moment that pushes everybody forward."      



Philip Bosco as Lenny Savage, flanked by onscreen Savage children Linney and Philip Seymor Hoffman, in "The Savages".  (Photo: Andrew Schwartz/Fox Searchlight Pictures)

 

While Lenny Savage is the irascible S.O.B. audiences see when "The Savages" commences, the veteran actor who plays him, Philip Bosco, is anything but.  Linney talks about him and as she does her reverence and admiration aren't difficult to discern.  On the set of such a difficult film topic (the latter stages of a parent's life) to absorb oneself in, Linney was buoyed by his ever-present good-mood demeanor, and despite not knowing him very well she definitely knew of his legend on the Broadway stage.  "He is a colossal figure for actors in New York.  You can't say enough about Philip Bosco.  When I was growing up, I saw him.  I grew up in Manhattan and I went to the theatre a lot as a kid and I saw him in a lot of plays and he was just this bigger-than-life character, even to the point where—I don't know if you remember there was a chocolate syrup called Bosco?—and I called it Phil Bosco milk.  That's how much a part of my life he was without even knowing him when I was little . . . I didn't know Phil Bosco from Adam.  As a human being I'd met him maybe once or twice but I had seen him for years and I was a fan.  Phil Hoffman would probably feel the same way.  So both of us had this sense of this man who has impacted both of our lives and for whom we have tremendous respect for but don't really know.  Bosco was fantastic.  The man is happy to be there.  He's always in a good mood.  We were three theatre actors hanging on set.  It was fun.  There was the occasional dirty joke."

 

There are several jokes, dirty, clean and offensive in "The Savages", but satire makes that possible, if not entirely digestible.  Satire, always a tricky variable in literature and entertainment, or anywhere else for that matter, is rampant in "The Savages", and there is a scene that will have some in the audience laughing and cringing at the same time.  With a family as all over the map and wildly out of sync as this one is, you can expect this, for it fits fully into the context of the story and the characters who trample through it with reckless abandon.  Working on "The Savages", naturally brought Linney's own thoughts about assisted living to the table, and naturally by extension, thoughts inevitably turn to her own parents.  At one moment, Linney ruefully, if not tongue-in-cheek, unveils her own personal strategy for bracing for the worst.  "[. . . C]rack a joke and honestly just prepare for it.  I don't want to feel guilty.  And I don't want them to feel unloved or deprived.  I don't know what will happen with my parents or where they'll end up or even if they'll be lucky enough to reach that age where they'll be put into [a facility] like that.  A lot of people just drop dead out of nowhere.  So it's sort of the blessing of being able to live that long and the curse of the reality of the world in which we live, where people live far away from each other and lives are not intertwined the way that they used to be.  They're difficult issues and people don't really talk about it.  There is that unspoken thing when someone says, "I just had to put my father in a home."  That's all people say and it reverberates intensely throughout the room because people know how difficult that is.  And then the things you find.  I don't know if you'd had to clean out a house but the delicious things you find that were left behind!  Whoo-hooooo!"  She laughs.  "It can be so funny.  The things you learn; it's just delicious and fantastic." 

 


DOUBLE TAKE   "There are things that will only happen in the theatre because of time.  You can't push it.  Only time will deepen a relationship.  Only time will let language fly in a certain way.  Only the ritual and the repetition will make something grow.  It's like a slow cooking stew.  Eat it at day two and it ain't going to be as good as at day seven.  It's just not.  There's nothing you can do.  You can't force water to boil.  You have to earn it."  -- Laura Linney


 

"The Savages" exposes all of the unspoken things, all the things that one supposedly isn't supposed to say, and says them all with unapologetic zeal.  Tamara Jenkins wrote the screenplay, which Linney said stayed virtually intact throughout.  Fox Searchlight Pictures gave Jenkins all the latitude and none of the interference that is commonly associated with one or two other film studios.  If "Four Weddings and a Funeral" bluntly intersected romance and sex with death, "The Savages" explodes the "taboos" of aging -- something that the United States -- as opposed to places such as continents like Asia and Africa -- have always had huge issues with, discomfort about, and a certain disrespect for -- and supplements the components of death, parental neglect, abuse and race -- all thorny, sensitive issues that are embedded or hard-wired into many an American movie audience's subconscious. 

 

photo of The Hottest State,  Laura Linney, Mark Webber
Laura Linney in "The Hottest State", directed by Ethan Hawke.  (Photo courtesy of ThinkFilm)

 

Thoughts about the subject of death and aging inevitably turn back to the film and its story.  Says Linney about the specific characters that are the family Savage in the film, "[i]t's also an unusual situation because it's also these people who are going through this experience.  It's not like normal people going through this experience, which would then make it a Lifetime movie.  It's these people.  It's this trio.  This wild trio of people going through this experience.  And with a parent who did not treat them well.  What do you do with that?  I find that topic really interesting.  How do you handle that?  How do you handle a parent who didn't treat you well who you then are responsible for?  There's that line where Philip says to me, 'Y'know, we're taking better care of him than he ever did of us.'  They have to for their own sense of self and for their sense of character.  It's interesting when you treat people better than they deserve.  What is that instinct in someone's character to do that?"  Months later -- months after Laura Linney has uttered that last question -- one is left to think about those families who pop up every now and then on the evening news in your city and in cities around the globe, the family who has forgiven an assailant his brutal murder of one of the family's own members, and then visits the murderer in prison and develops a relationship with him and essentially adopts him as a member of their family, replacing the very person they killed.

"What is that instinct in someone's character to do that?"

A multitude of answers could be inspired from the question that Linney has left in the air to hang like a frozen moment of an old school Michael Jordan slam-dunk -- a basketball millisecond poster-ized into immortality.  Some might answer, "faith", others might beg to differ, while others still may point to one's own selflessness, self-restraint and humanity -- with a few in a so-called members of the silent majority screaming under their breaths the word insanity, as a reason that fuels one to cultivate an amazingly conciliatory attitude in the wake of a most vicious subtraction of one's own priceless flesh and blood. 

 

Linney's own parents -- a nurse mother and a well-known playwright-professor father -- are, like all who read these words, rapidly accumulating seconds of time to their ages, and this fact -- the inevitability of life's end -- is a thought that all people in their forties think increasingly about where their parents are concerned.  The challenge is to address the subject head-on, which "The Savages" does, quite often with the kind of medicine that doctors may not necessarily prescribe for what ails: laughter.  To this end, the film's star concurs when referring to her own parents, specifically looking at the difficult time that will eventually come in a different light, acknowledging the need to use comedy in life in tragic, or impending tragic circumstances, to laugh to keep from crying, to tell the most inappropriate jokes and anecdotes, the same kind of banter and disassociation that police detectives at a gruesome crime scene adopt to alleviate the processing of the graphic and horrific nature of the aftermath of the crime that they are mired in.  On joking about parents in such a way, Linney says that such is necessary " . . . to take the dread off it."  Furthermore, she added that facing an issue that many are uncomfortable with would be an opportunity.  "Doing this film, and also my age, it's made me think a lot about what's ahead and what I'm responsible for.  There are several people who I will be responsible for, helping them through the end of their life, and it's a privilege."

 

Speaking of privilege, Linney would say the same about working with Philip Seymour Hoffman on "The Savages" and Mark Ruffalo in 2000 on "You Can Count On Me" (for which she garnered the first of two Academy Award nominations -- the other was for the film "Kinsey" in a supporting role in 2005.)  In both "Savages" and "Count On Me" she plays sister to their brother roles.  Many people, including a number of critics and interviewers, have the notion that such roles are part of a continuum or a character that is inevitably ripe for typecasting.  (Steve Buscemi talked about the same thing earlier this year during an interview for his film "Interview", in which he said that, "[y]ou know, it's only so many different parts of me.  There's only so many different characters that you can play.")  Linney is most likely one to agree with this sentiment, and on the subject of playing a sister more than once on the big screen, she opines that "[i]t's funny because a lot of people 'were like, 'well, do you really want to do another brother-sister movie?'  I thought, "what does that mean?  I can never be another wife in another movie?  I can never be another girlfriend?  I can never be another lawyer in a movie?'  It was so funny for people to say that to me.  I was like, 'what are you talking about?'" 

 


Laura Linney as Claire in "Jindabyne", directed by Ray Lawrence.  (Photo courtesy: Sony Pictures Classics)

 

After giving the opposing viewpoint more thought and conceding that she understood the view that some held regarding similar characters, Linney adds, "[w]ell, if you really think that logic through, it's absurd.'  Besides, they're totally different relationships." 

 

When an actor is placed in the depths of a scene, or in the anachronisms of a period drama, or just simply the surroundings of a place completely alien to them, what roadmaps are employed?  Linney gives a few details out for her role as Claire in "Jindabyne", which is directed by Ray Lawrence, who directed Australian actor Anthony La Paglia in the film "Lantana".  There was much more than a little going on in a film that teemed with racism perpetrated by numerous of its white characters in their actions and reactions to the rape and murder of a black (Aboriginal) woman in the southeastern Australian town of Jindabyne.  Linney's character undergoes numerous subterranean changes as she responds to her husband (Gabriel Byrne), who may or may not be an accessory to the vicious crime after the fact.  Linney had never been to Australia before, and she was genuinely struck by its expanse.  " I had never felt nature that was that powerful and I lived part of the time in the Rocky Mountains.  I'm not just a city girl although I grew up in Manhattan.  The power of that country.  The vibrations of the nature.  It's a whole other thing."

 

Other elements came into play during the shoot, elements echoing the obliterated landscape of New Orleans and adjacent Gulf Coast areas of the U.S. in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

 

"We were also shooting in a location where the town was submerged in water.  Just that can give you pause to think about.  That character, I found her really interesting.  A woman who had post-partum depression to such a degree that she left.  What must that be?  If you have to ask, that was a situation where I had to ask, 'Why?'  Other than just accepting a generalized reason, I really had to look at what is post-partum?  What does it do?  How bad does it get?  What is it?  And why would she leave?  Then I realized she left because she was scared she was going to kill her kid.  She was scared she was going to hurt her child.  Just exploring all of that and being a foreigner in a foreign land, marrying another foreigner, it was so layered and everyone was so haunted.  It was all so visceral and thick and another script that was beautifully written.  So where I got it was from all over the place really, I guess, but it was very deep, emotionally it was very demanding.  It was very murky."

 

The depths of the murky waters of "Jindabyne" were balanced by the swiftness of the shoot, which was a blessing for Linney and the other performers.

 


DOUBLE TAKE   "Look at someone like Jodie Foster.  I know that Jodie Foster knows things in her bones about film that I will never know just because it's what she's been doing since she was small.  Her whole professional life has been about film and, similarly, there are things that I know about theatre that other people will never know, just because I grew up in it and I've been around it my whole life.  I'm fluent in the language of theatre.  [Laughs.]  But as the years go on, the more film I do, the more I enjoy how challenging it is and I'm hoping that I'm getting a little better at it.  I still feel like I have so much more to learn.  There are things I still struggle with that I know I need to work on and the only way you can work on it is by doing it."  -- Laura Linney


 

Undoubtedly, every film set has its blessings and its curses, and when there is both economy and depth in a film's shooting process and story, the surroundings of set environment be it more challenging as a character in its own right, is likely not as large a factor in a film like "Jindabyne", at least from Linney's comments about the film.  "Everything," said Linney, "was in one take.  There was only natural light.  Days went fast and easy and breezy.  Ray Lawrence was fantastic and we all had a jolly good ol' time doing this very intense film that dealt with murder and race and home and emotional politics and disappointment and shattered expectations and youth."  A large smile flashes across Linney's face as she talks about the kids who were part of Claire's world in "Jindabyne".  "Those children were just delicious.  I loved those kids.  My God, did I love that little boy.  Looking at that little face and thinking [about] coming back and the guilt of knowing whatever was possessing [Claire] at the time that scared herself so badly that she had to abandon them and then have no one understand what she was going through.  For Americans, mental health is here if you need it.  It's accepted.  Should be required.  I just found the whole thing so interesting.  It was a fecund script.  It was teeming with stuff."

 

Linney will describe the process of acting as an investigation, with the script as a companion road map that helps direct the inquiry.  The paramount question that Laura Linney asks herself when reading or approaching a script is: "is this actable?"  She says she has often repeated her observation that "many scripts are not written now to be acted."  Today in Hollywood the goal behind a script is to finance it, according to Linney, who notes that scripts are "written for people who are not trained to read a script."  In the same breath, she adds: "That's not a criticism; that's just a reality.  When those scripts get to actors who are trained and are looking for certain things . . . and it's not there . . .  you have to do an enormous amount of work and 90% of the time the movie's not going to work.  It might work financially but it's not going to be a satisfying experience.  It's going to be hard."  As she speaks about the process she paints a vivid picture, as if she herself were a sculptor of the words etched on the imaginary pages of a typical screenplay.  Once it is determined that a script is actable, she says, "then you know there are places to go, there's things to unearth, dynamics that are there, the narrative's going to work, you can see it.  It's the equivalent of an architect looking at a blueprint.  They can see the angles of the house and it's just on the paper.  They can feel the wood even though it just says, "This will be cedar."  

 

photo of Mystic River,  Laura Linney
Laura Linney as Annabeth Markum in "Mystic River", directed by Clint Eastwood.  (Photo by Merie W. Wallace/Warner Brothers)

 

Acting is about spontaneity as well as anticipation.  Years ago, in a book by Michael Caine called Acting In Film, he devoted a few pages of the book to "the art of spontaneity", addressing that vaunted moment during a take where the unpredictable is one of the essential joys of the craft.  Linney speaks to spontaneity's companion -- the art of anticipation -- an innate ability within most highly-skilled actors.  "It's like a chess player who can see five steps ahead.  There's something that actors have, who work in this way, and we can see it or we can tell, 'this scene is off and I need it to be different so that the scene down there will make sense.'  That's fun.  Tinkering that way is really fun.  I just did this huge mini-series ["John Adams"] for HBO and we were constantly figuring out how to reshape and what did we need and—if we do this in episode two—will it pay off in episode six?"

 

The application of an actor's enforcement of anticipation is demonstrated in Linney's analysis and explanation of the strategy she devised for her character Annabeth Markum in Clint Eastwood's "Mystic River".  "[Annabeth] was a small part with this thing in the end.  There had to be hints throughout the rest of the movie so that when that monologue hit (at the end of the film), the audience was prepared for it subconsciously and then it would hit hard.  It couldn't just come out of nowhere.  It had to be set up."  Linney amplifies her explanation with an analogy to a blob of paint, revealing that her manipulation of the paint blob with a brush uncovered further details and shades within it.  For Linney it is these strokes of acting that are some of the most joyous and exciting moments of the process.  "The fun for me was, 'okay, how do I set this up?'  I'm in the first scene of the movie -- or one of the first scenes of the movie -- and you don't know who the hell [Annabeth] is really until that scene and then it all becomes exposed.  But how do you set it up that way?  That's what's fun." 

 

While Linney relishes being in the moment, whether on stage, screen or television, she reveals that getting to the core or the truth of her characters in their most vulnerable or unguarded moments was more of an ordeal than she bargained for.  "There was a time when I was still a student in school when emotional access was not easy for me.  I would force it and it was terrible and I knew it was terrible and I felt like a fraud.  Something clicked at one point and now it's not an issue."

 

Issues of her characters and their being likable or otherwise, have also emerged for Linney at some point.  Mary Ann Singleton, Linney would likely agree, is the most likable character she has played thus far.  Yet Linney says she was surprised by the comments of one director she worked with, as she at this moment answers in the affirmative a question about whether being likable can compromise an actor.  "If that's what you're thinking about," she adds.  "I can remember that there was a movie I did early on and I was so shocked because the director came up to me at the end of the movie and said, 'you know, she's not going to be liked.  She's not likeable.'  I was like, 'what do you mean?  She wasn't likeable from day one and now we're at the end of the movie and you want her to be likeable?!  Are you insane?'  I was like, 'Don't worry about it.  It's okay.  She doesn't have to be likeable.'"

 

And that wounded woman named Wendy Savage definitely isn't. 

 


"The Savages" is now playing in New York and Los Angeles and on December 21 will open in San Francisco and other select cities in the U.S. and Canada.

 

 

 

 

 

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