Laura Linney: An actor, not a movie star


I have one huge complaint about Laura Linney: I don’t see her enough.

Not that she’s idle. She’s currently in Manhattan Theater Club’s production of Time Stands Still with Alicia Silverstone, which opens Thursday.

She has three movies scheduled to premiere this year: Sympathy for Delicious with Mark Ruffalo, Morning with Jeanne Tripplehorn and The Details with Tobey Maguire. She’s also starring in a new Showtime series, The Big C, with Oliver Platt and Precious star Gabourey Sidibe.

The New York Times profiled Linney Sunday, calling her the “little black dress” of entertainers: “Simple, elegant, appropriate for any occasion.” Odd metaphor aside, the point is that Linney is an incredibly versatile actress, whether she’s being adorable, elegant or insufferable.

Her acting wins raves from critics not prone to star worship, like this one from the Times’ Ben Brantley on her role in Sight Unseen. “A sorcerer named Laura Linney is performing an act of magic that happens only in live theater. She has rewritten a play without changing a word.”

Yet despite strong performances in more than 30 films and 10 Broadway plays, including three Oscar nominations and Emmy and Golden Globe wins for playing Abigail Adams in HBO’s John Adams, Linney has not achieved the kind of celebrity status we expect. The Times calls her “a sort of Everywoman’s Meryl Streep” (which made me notice, for the first time, her resemblance to the reigning queen of the big screen).

Linney doesn’t think about popularity, though, when she chooses roles. “That’s a quick road to cuckoo town if you think about it all the time,” she told the Times. “The only really conscious decision I made was to cast my net wide and if the work was good, to do it.”

Perhaps that’s why she has not accepted a starring role on a TV series until now. Cable certainly allows actors more flexibility that network series. And her upcoming turn in The Big C presents the kind of challenge she relishes as a performer. Linney’s mother was a nurse at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, so the script appealed to her. “I couldn’t get it out of my head. What would you do if you knew you were going to die? Is it a curse or a privilege?”

No matter how Linney chooses to play it, we know seeing her will be a privilege for us. Good acting always is.

Check out the NYT article and give us your thoughts. Are you looking forward to seeing more of Laura Linney?

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