Laura Linney The Savages Interview

Laura Linney The Savages Interview


EXCLUSIVE Interview by Paul Fischer.

Laura Linney continues to take on roles that show off her diversity, and as she prepares to return to Broadway next season, the actress plays a self-obsessed sibling opposite Philip Seymour Hoffman in the abrasively funny The Savages. The actress talked exclusively to Paul Fischer.

Paul Fischer: Did this character in The Savages come easily to you?

Laura Linney: Well, it came easily because the writing was so good. When the writing is good, and its so richly drawn and there are so many hints and all that, it came easily that way because there was so much direction within the writing. So it did come easily, actually.

Paul Fischer: Can you identify with her in any way?

Laura Linney: Well of course you identify with her because you play her, but Im not like her that way. You know, shes in this state of complete arrested development and she behaves like an eleven year old most of the time, so the boundaries of her personality are very far apart. She can be very manic, be very still, she can be extremely narcissistic and she can be very empathetic. So there was an enormous amount to play in between those two polar caps of her personality and it was fun trying to figure out all the stuff in between, that would make the more extreme elements of her personality sort of hit harder.

Paul Fischer: Do you flex different acting muscles when you do something like that, where you have to search for all of those sorts of things?

Laura Linney: Oh, sure. Sure. Its why we do what we do, its just, its fun. And when the writing is good and when youre working with someone like Phil, its really exciting.

Paul Fischer: Now tell me about your relationship with Phil and how important was it for you to sort of discuss your characters and work out the sort of pattern, I suppose, or the beats of your relationship?

Laura Linney: Well, we talked a little bit, but we sort of did a lot of separate work and then we showed up ready to go. Then you just respond and react and you feed off of each other in a way where one persons work ends and anothers begins. Youre completely intertwined that way. So we had made some certain, you know, basic decisions about history and all that. And then we went off and did our own work and came back sort of ready to go.

Paul Fischer: Does doing a movie like this give you a taste of doing more comedic work?

Laura Linney: Not really. I didn't really think of it that way. I try not to sort of characterize it. I mean, its obvious when something is a drama and something is a comedy ,but I dont approach them that way, do you know what I mean?

Paul Fischer: Youre always so incredibly busy. I wonder if youre going to reach a point where you think youre going to slow down, or whether or not youre going to take more time in deciding what youre going to do?

Laura Linney: Well, who knows? Well see where life sort of goes. I think I probably will slow down, which is sort of the inevitability of a life in Hollywood in some ways. I love doing what Im doing,I love working in the theater, so Ill just sort of see where it goes. I dont think Ill make a decision about it one way or the other. If the work is good and its still there then Ill keep working. If its not good, and I dont have to make money, then I wont do it. All of those considerations go into it.

Paul Fischer: In fact, you clearly dont take a movie because of the money.

Laura Linney: Well occasionally you have to. I think every actor does, occasionally. Thats certainly never the priority.

Paul Fischer: You seem to find these really amazing parts. Are you kind of surprised that youre able to get these kinds of, still get these kinds of roles?

Laura Linney: Im very fortunate, but I think theres something also that, Ive gotten better at reading material. So I can sort of sense when theres something that has potential. You know, so Im lucky that way.

Paul Fischer: The last time we spoke I dont think youd made a decision about going back to the theater. You were looking at things. Is anything changed?

Laura Linney: Yes. Im going into rehearsal in March for a production of Les Liaisons Dangereuses.

Paul Fischer: Whos opposite you?

Laura Linney: A British actor named Ben Daniels, whos going to be making his Broadway debut.

Paul Fischer: When does that start?

Laura Linney: I go into rehearsal in March. Im not sure when we open. Sometime in May I would think.

Paul Fischer: I know you finished the work on the HBO miniseries. about President John Adams. How much historical liberty is taken with this piece?

Laura Linney: Well, liberty is taken, and there are clues from what we know to have happened and then we have to flesh it out. So we certainly try to make decisions as we imagine it would be, or how they would behave.

Paul Fischer: Youre not worried about incurring the wrath of historical purists, I take it?

Laura Linney: Ah, we probably will. I dont think thats avoidable at all.

Paul Fischer: Are you going anywhere over the holidays?

Laura Linney: Home.

Paul Fischer: And I presume that this writers strike is not affecting you, in any way?

LAURA LINNEY: Well I think its affecting everybody. It will affect everybody. But it should affect everybody. These are big huge issues that have been on the horizon for a very long time, and need to be thoughtfully and carefully negotiated.

Paul Fischer: Do you think theres going to be a slow resolution to the strike?

LAURA LINNEY: Well, it would be wonderful if they were, if it was negotiated quickly, but I don't know how thats possible with issues that are this complex.

Paul Fischer: It affects you guys, as well.

LAURA LINNEY: Yeah, well follow suit, you know?

The Savages

Starring: Laura Linney, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Philip Bosco, Peter Friedman, Gbenga Akinnagbe
Director: Tamara Jenkins
Screenwriter: Tamara Jenkins
Producer: Ted Hope, Anne Carey, Erica Westheimer
Composer: Stephen Trask
Genre: Dramas

Synopsis: Director Tamara Jenkins made audiences sit for nearly a decade for her follow-up to the hilarious dark comedy SLUMS OF BEVERLY HILLS, but it's been worth the wait. Like her previous film, THE SAVAGES is a sometimes-funny, sometimes-sad look at family dynamics, but this time around the sense... Director Tamara Jenkins made audiences sit for nearly a decade for her follow-up to the hilarious dark comedy SLUMS OF BEVERLY HILLS, but it's been worth the wait. Like her previous film, THE SAVAGES is a sometimes-funny, sometimes-sad look at family dynamics, but this time around the sense of humor is more wry than riotous. Laura Linney and Philip Seymour Hoffman play Wendy and Jon Savage, a pair of siblings on the cusp of middle age. She's earning money in New York City as a temp as she writes an autobiographical play about their childhood, while he lives in Buffalo, teaching college and finishing a book on Bertolt Brecht.

Their estranged father (Philip Bosco) lives across the country, but the Savages reluctantly rush to see him when they learn that he may not be able to take care of himself any longer. Jon and Wendy bicker over problems old and new as they try to figure out what's best for a man they barely know. Like Noah Baumbach in THE SQUID AND THE WHALE and MARGOT AT THE WEDDING, writer-director Jenkins knows how to mine family dysfunction for both comedy and drama. Jon and Wendy tear into each other as only people connected by blood can, but their fighting feels entirely genuine, largely thanks to the performances of Linney and Hoffman. Though they'll get most of the buzz for their roles, character actor Bosco is heartbreaking as their aging father. Though his decline is difficult to watch, the actor's performance is absolutely mesmerizing.

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