Laura Linney Spotlight

Her success was a long time in coming.

Feature by Alec McLeod | 13 Sep 2006
When it is said of a Hollywood actress that she deserves all she gets, it's usually a slur relating to some gossip-induced fall from grace, but in Laura Linney's case, it's her success that was a long time in coming. Having majored in Theatre at Rhode Island's Brown University back in 1986, she then went on to the Juilliard School to study acting. Theatre roles in New York followed, and it was in 1992 that she got her first film role, in 'Lorenzo's Oil'. A decent, performance-led film starring Susan Sarandon and Nick Nolte, it gave a solid foundation to the work that would follow, even if it hasn't all been good since; her first starring role was in 'Congo' playing alongside a talking gorilla, but it did show she could handle a lead part in a big movie.

The film that was to prove this conclusively was 'The Truman Show', in which she played an actress forced to live her part as wife to the drama's unwitting star. The film cleverly side-stepped Truman's obsessive relationship with his true love, instead focusing on the far more interesting dynamic of the faux-happily married couple, with Linney showing us how Wilma Flintstone must have really felt. Her strained smile as she shoe-horned a product placement for macaroni into a family argument was one of the film's finest moments.

Her dedicated work ethic showed through again when she took a mere $10,000 fee to star in 'You Can Count on Me', which paid off with an Oscar nomination in 2001. A second, for the little-seen 'Kinsey' in 2005 established her as a respected actress whose performances were being monitored by the right people, though her next, in 'The Squid & the Whale', was perhaps more deserving. Documenting the messy divorce of an academic couple with young kids, it echoed her own experiences; her playwright father left home when she was in infancy. This month sees her in the British-made 'Driving Lessons', where she plays mother to Harry Potter's best mate Rupert Grint, who starts a bizarre relationship with Julie Walters' retired actress. It should be an interesting film to watch - chances are that if it weren't, she wouldn't be in it.
Driving Lessons' is released on September 8th.