Monday, July 13, 2015

Interview: Laura Linney

One of the best actresses of her generation, Laura Linney has a knack for making cool, even somewhat icy characters seem sympathetic. Her latest is Mrs. Munro, the beleaguered housekeeper to Ian McKellen's Sherlock Holmes in Bill Condon's Mr. Holmes. In the film, an elegiac tale about the detective toward the end of his life, Holmes struggles with the steady disintegration of his magnificent memory and tries to put his emotional affairs in order, finding unexpected inspiration in a friendship with Mrs. Munro's precocious son, Roger, played by Milo Parker. Meanwhile, her pained absorption of his high-handed, unintentionally rude treatment helps trigger a primal memory that haunts Holmes for reasons he struggles to understand, giving him one last mystery to solve.

Linney and I spoke at the Crosby Hotel the day the Supreme Court handed down its decision in favor of gay marriage. Although that landmark decision never explicitly came up in our conversation, Linney ended the interview with a cheery: "Enjoy this wonderful day, this historic day!" In person as in her work, she seems at once emotionally transparent and guarded. She answered every question promptly and emphatically, yet often revealed very little, while leaving no doubt that there was a lot going on behind those observant, intelligent eyes.

You often talk about how much you loved being in school. What did you love about it?

I loved the process of learning and changing—of walking into a room and leaving it a different person by whatever you've absorbed in the process. I find learning inspiring. I find teachers inspiring, great teachers. And I find classmates inspiring. And the connection that you can have when you're in a group of people who are all learning something together. It's life, to me.

It sounds like that could all translate pretty seamlessly to acting, substituting a movie or play for a classroom and the other actors and crew for your classmates.

Yeah, absolutely. It's all about connection. Read the rest in Slant Magazine

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