TLLL's last theatrical outing, Donald Margulie's Time Stands Still
No such impromptu singing erupted from The Lovely Laura Linney though the subject of musicals did come up. She absolutely loves them --- particularly big dance numbers -- but doesn’t have those gifts, can’t sing at all. The evening was a bit awkward with the moderator, theatrical producer Jordan Roth, occassionally waiting long stretches after Linney was done with an answer to move on, in which she would be forced to meander through a reiteration of what she’d just said. But for those who enjoy actorspeak and talk about “the craft” and the importance of art and culture, it was a totally engaging evening. I am one of those people. Duh.
Linney isn’t a celebrity that we know a lot about in terms of her personal life. I wasn’t aware, though maybe I should have been, that she is an absolute hard core stage actor. It’s how she defines herself. It’s clear that she wants to be treading the boards till she drops. (Mysteriously, I’ve missed all of her Broadway appearances.) She considers TV & Film to be strange things that happened along the way… she’s grateful for them, but she is all about the stage. She even described film as a medium that sucks things out of you without giving back. Stranger still, she’s scared of cameras and had to conquer that fear to do it. (She still hates to be photographed. Imagine!) She also talked a little about the differences between stage and film in terms of “rehearsal”…getting a laugh when she said that “rehearsal” for film should actually be called “negotiation.” She advised young actors to not get caught up in making choices for their “career” but for the material and the acting itself. There’s only so much control you have over a career.
Let’s see what else did we learn about TLLL? Her favorite costumes for any of her roles are the ones for John Adams – but she also kept her You Can Count On Me jacket. In her first Playbill they misspelled her name “Lavro Linney” and it taught her to not take herself too seriously since she had hundreds of playbills at home and was desperate to see her name in one. This story was very funny and she says her friends still call her “Lavro” if she starts taking herself too seriously. That first gig was an understudy for the younger female roles in Six Degrees of Separation and she watched Stockard Channing perform it every night for a year, completely enraptured. Every time she thought that Stockard couldn't take the role any deeper, she would.
That’s enough trivia!
She has zero interest in directing but she recently moved into the exciting world of producing for her new Showtime Series The Big C (see previous post) and she thinks she’ll be good at it. She talked a lot about understanding actors well enough to be very smart about call times, set environment and especially casting ‘No, cast this person. They have more range. It’ll inspire the writers and the show will be better.’ She also shared a theory on why when some actors emote you feel nothing and others will make you go all puddly (she believes the difference is that some actors knit their emotions specifically to the material whereas others are just accessing their own stuff... which is less thrilling.) More than anything else when the night ended, I wanted a private “Conversation With Laura Linney.” Which actors are which for you LAVRO? Spill. Show me your personal Oscar ballots!!!