skip navigation
Laura Linney

Laura Linney

Up
Down

| VIEW ALL

TCM Messageboards
Post your comments here
ADD YOUR COMMENT>

share:

TCM Archive Materials VIEW ALL ARCHIVES (0)

Recent DVDs

 
 

Breach DVD Inspired by the biggest act of treason in American history, "Breach" (2007)... more info $12.98was $12.98 Buy Now

Lorenzo's Oil DVD In this adventurous blockbuster, Michael Keaton returns as Batman, the Caped... more info $14.98was $14.98 Buy Now

The Other Man DVD A taut thriller, THE OTHER MAN is an intimate tale of a man who discovers his... more info $14.98was $14.98 Buy Now

The Savages DVD Written and Directed by: Tamara Jenkins Produced by: Ted Hope, Anne Carey and... more info $14.98was $14.98 Buy Now

The Exorcism Of Emily Rose... Shocking horror melds with courtroom drama in this fascinating film based on a... more info $9.99was $9.99 Buy Now

Driving Lessons DVD Rupert Grint stars as a sheltered teenage boy eager to explore the wider world... more info $14.99was $14.99 Buy Now



Also Known As: Laura Legett Linney Died:
Born: February 5, 1964 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: New York City, New York, USA Profession: actor

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

An award-winning stage actress who grew up around New York theaters, Laura Linney's distinctive artistry immediately stood out from the Hollywood crowd when she began hitting film screens in the 1990s. Her multi-layered portrayal of hired actress-wife to unwitting husband Jim Carrey in "The Truman Show" (1998) was a breakout supporting role. Only two years later, she topped critics' year-end lists and earned an Academy Award nomination for her lead in the refreshingly realistic family portrait, "You Can Count on Me" (2000). While residing comfortably under the radar of general public recognition, Linney's rare qualities were coveted by quality filmmakers, and the actress shone in Clint Eastwood's "Mystic River" (2004), Noah Baumbach's "The Squid and the Whale" (2005), and was Oscar-nominated as well for "Kinsey" (2004) and "The Savages" (2007). A multiple Emmy winner and star of the successful "John Adams" (HBO, 2008) miniseries, Linney returned to television to headline her own show, "The Big C" (Showtime, 2010- ) opposite Oliver Platt. On stage, film or television, there seemed no limit to the range of this classically-trained chameleon.Laura Linney was born in New York City, NY on Feb. 5, 1964....

An award-winning stage actress who grew up around New York theaters, Laura Linney's distinctive artistry immediately stood out from the Hollywood crowd when she began hitting film screens in the 1990s. Her multi-layered portrayal of hired actress-wife to unwitting husband Jim Carrey in "The Truman Show" (1998) was a breakout supporting role. Only two years later, she topped critics' year-end lists and earned an Academy Award nomination for her lead in the refreshingly realistic family portrait, "You Can Count on Me" (2000). While residing comfortably under the radar of general public recognition, Linney's rare qualities were coveted by quality filmmakers, and the actress shone in Clint Eastwood's "Mystic River" (2004), Noah Baumbach's "The Squid and the Whale" (2005), and was Oscar-nominated as well for "Kinsey" (2004) and "The Savages" (2007). A multiple Emmy winner and star of the successful "John Adams" (HBO, 2008) miniseries, Linney returned to television to headline her own show, "The Big C" (Showtime, 2010- ) opposite Oliver Platt. On stage, film or television, there seemed no limit to the range of this classically-trained chameleon.

Laura Linney was born in New York City, NY on Feb. 5, 1964. Her parents were divorced before she was a year old, leaving Linney to live on the Upper East Side with her mother, spending her early years as an only child with a working mom and an over-developed imagination. Weekends and summer vacations with her father, renowned playwright and professor Romulus Linney, offered her an early introduction to the theater world. Linney spent three summers with a regional New Hampshire theater company, beginning when she was just 12 years old. From then on, her life was devoted to theater, though initially the shy teen was not certain whether her role would be onstage or off. At the picturesque Northfield Mt. Hermon boarding school in Massachusetts, Linney was active in the theater department and further focused on acting at Brown University, where she graduated with a BFA in Theater Arts in 1986. The young stage veteran faced her biggest creative challenge when she was accepted into the prestigious program at Juilliard.

After surviving the rigorous demands of Juilliard and breaking into the business with a few stage roles, Linney harbored modest hopes of landing in a solid regional theater company somewhere far from Broadway. She was granted a much bigger opportunity as the understudy for Tess in the original Broadway production of "Six Degrees of Separation." The position lasted nearly a year, after which Linney landed a small but critically acclaimed role as a German journalist in the art world drama "Sight Unseen," which earned her Drama Desk and Theater World Awards. The unshowy actress was surprised to find that she had any Hollywood appeal at all when she was cast in a small role as a teacher in "Lorenzo's Oil" in 1992, thus the theater devotee reluctantly launched her film career.

Linney focused on her stage career over the next few years, building a solid reputation of artistry with "The Seagull" and "Hedda Gabler" before she was cast opposite Steve Martin in "A Simple Twist of Fate" (1994), a modernized spin on "Silas Marner." For a PBS adaptation of "Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City" (1994), Linney landed one of her first starring roles as Mary Ann Singleton, a naive Ohio transplant to San Francisco, CA. The actress admittedly put her acting on hold to scream and run away from gorillas in 1995's misbegotten thriller "Congo," which allowed the stage thespian six months of on-the-job-training time to learn all she could about her new world of feature film production. Back in New York, she returned to Broadway in a revival of the comedy "Holiday" in the role made famous on film by Katharine Hepburn in 1938.

After admiring her performance as former lover and courtroom adversary of Richard Gere in the sleeper hit "Primal Fear" (1996), Clint Eastwood tapped Linney to portray his daughter in the political thriller "Absolute Power" (1997). Linney reprised her role of Mary Ann Singleton in the sequel "Armistead Maupin's More Tales of the City" (Showtime, 1998) and took to the stage alongside Jane Alexander in "Honour" (1998). She followed up with her highest profile role to date - that of Meryl, wife of Jim Carrey's Truman Burbank in the satirical "The Truman Show" (1998). Under Peter Weir's solid direction, Linney's performance as the increasingly unhappy actress chafing under her duty to be loyal wife and commercial pitchwoman worked in counterpoint to Carrey's fine work as the questioning Truman. One of Carrey's first impressive forays into drama, the film was a critical hit.

Linney became a virtual overnight indie sensation with her unanimous accolades for "You Can Count on Me" (2000), writer-director Kenneth Lonergan's finely nuanced study of grown siblings who have grown worlds apart. Playing a former wild child who reigned herself in to a respectable small town life as a bank loan officer and single mom, Linney's portrayal sang with truth and seeming effortlessness as she tried to strike a balance with an aimless younger brother (Mark Ruffalo) and an overbearing boss (Matthew Broderick). Linney was cheered for her depth and brilliance, sweeping film critic's awards and earning Oscar and Golden Globe nominations. At the height of her newfound recognition, the actress returned to Broadway in "Uncle Vanya" before appearing back onscreen in Merchant Ivory's adaptation of Edith Wharton's "The House of Mirth" (2000) opposite TV's Gillian Anderson.

Continuing her relationship with Showtime, Linney reprised Mary Ann Singleton in "Armistead Maupin's Further Tales of the City" (2001) before co-starring with Gena Rowlands in "Wild Iris" (Showtime, 2002), a drama about an estranged mother and daughter forced by circumstance to share a home. Linney's emotional performance earned the actress her first Emmy nomination as Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie. She also made an appearance in HBO's "The Laramie Project" (2002), which chronicled events following the tragic hate-killing of gay teen Matthew Shepard. In 2002's dreary thriller "The Mothman Prophecies," Linney played a cop again opposite Richard Gere, a widower on the hunt for a legendary local monster, but even her strong performance was unable to overcome the murky script. Linney rebounded with her first Tony win, as lead Elizabeth Proctor in Henry Miller's classic "The Crucible," which also snared the Tony for Best Revival.

Early Linney champion Clint Eastwood recruited her for his highly praised revenge opus "Mystic River" (2003), where she wowed possibly her largest big screen audience yet by playing the strong-willed wife of Sean Penn. She took a brief detour into straight comedy with writer-director Richard Curtis' ensemble rom-com "Love Actually" (2003), and scored an Emmy for her guest spots as Dr. Frasier Crane's love interest on the final season of "Frasier" (NBC, NBC, 1993-2004). Hot on the heels of her Emmy win, she received Best Supporting Actress nominations from SAG, the Golden Globes and the Academy Awards for starring opposite Liam Neeson as sex researcher Alfred Kinsey's wife Clara in Bill Condon's "Kinsey" (2004). That same year, Linney appeared in a Broadway revival of "Sight Unseen," playing a different role in the play that had been her earliest stage success and earning a Tony nomination in the process.

The versatile actress with seemingly endless range segued into another winner with writer-director Noah Baumbach's dark comedy "The Squid and the Whale" (2005). The indie was among the most talked about films of the year, earning Linney another Golden Globe nod for playing the estranged wife of a failed writer (Jeff Daniels) who achieves literary success herself and engages in a painful volley with her ex built on mutual affairs and battles over raising their young sons. Linney lent a rich performance to the otherwise empty "Man of the Year" (2006), playing a software employee who unwittingly enables a talk show host (Robin Williams) to win the presidency after running a mock campaign. Released the same week was "Driving Lessons" (2006), a little-seen coming-of-age gem about a repressed 17-year-old (Rupert Grint) tired of his over-bearing, Bible-thumping mother (Linney), who forms a friendship with an eccentric retired actress (Julie Walters).

Linney took a leading role in "Jindabyne" (2007), an Australian film based on the writings of Raymond Carver, and enjoyed a round of accolades in the festival favorite before signing on to co-star in "Breach" (2007), a well-reviewed thriller focusing on the life of former FBI agent-turned-Russian spy Robert Hanssen (Chris Cooper), who was brought to justice thanks to his young assistant (Ryan Phillippe). Another uncharacteristically commercial film (and critical flop) followed with "The Nanny Diaries" (2007). In the initially anticipated film, Linney sent up the Manhattan elite with relish, proving the stand-out in the mediocre film adaptation of the popular novel.

The year ended on a more positive note with the release of writer-director Tamara Jenkins' "The Savages," in which Linney co-starred with Phillip Seymour Hoffman as a pair of maturity-challenged siblings faced with caring for their estranged and ailing father (Philip Bosco). The film enjoyed a wave of critical buzz following successful screenings on the festival circuit, with both stars praised for their Oscar-worthy performances. Its U.S. premiere at the American Film Institute Festival in December coincided with an AFI tribute to the well-respected actress who had never even planned on a career outside the world of theater. It turned out that the praise she received was well deserved - she earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role. Meanwhile, Linney was slated to return to Broadway in "Les Liasons Dangereuses" beginning in May of 2008, then revisited the small screen, playing Abigail Adams to Paul Giamatti's John Adams in the historic miniseries "John Adams" (HBO, 2008), for which she would receive a Golden Globe, an Emmy award and a Screen Actors Guild award for her strong and nuanced performance as the wife of the complex and conflicted president.

Heralding the great migration of powerhouse film actresses to meaty TV roles, Linney made headlines when she signed on to star in "The Big C" (Showtime, 2010- ), a dark comedy about a suburban teacher (Linney) whose diagnosis of cancer upends her world and gives her a new, frightening yet freeing look at life and what she wants out of it. The show came highly pedigreed, with ultra-talented co-stars Oliver Platt, Brian Cox, Gabourey Sidibe, Idris Elba and Cynthia Nixon in recurring roles. Once again, Linney brought her award-worthy talents to bear, earning a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Television Series - Comedy or Musical, while setting herself up to win an Emmy after receiving a nomination in 2011. As she continued to amass award nominations and praise for "The Big C," Linney continued making movies, voicing the North Pole computer in "Arthur Christmas" (2011) and playing Margaret Suckley, distant cousin and eventual mistress to President Franklin D. Roosevelt (Bill Murray), in the acclaimed "Hyde Park on Hudson" (2012).

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

2.
3.
4.
 Arthur Christmas (2011)
5.
 Details, The (2011)
6.
 Morning (2010)
9.
 Other Man, The (2008)
10.
 Breach (2007)
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Raised on the Upper East Side of NYC
1976:
Worked as a summer apprentice at New London Barn Playhouse in New Hampshire
1990:
Off-Broadway debut as an understudy in "Six Degrees of Separation"; made Broadway debut when she assumed the role in the Broadway production
1992:
Breakthrough stage role in "Sight Unseen"
1992:
Feature acting debut, "Lorenzo's Oil"
1993:
TV acting debut, "Class of '61" (ABC), directed by Gregory Hoblit
1993:
Had small but memorable role as a secretary having an affair with the president in "Dave"
1994:
First TV lead, played Mary Ann Singleton in "Armistead Maupin's 'Tales of the City'" (PBS)
1995:
First feature starring role, "Congo"
1995:
Starred opposite Tony Goldwyn in the Broadway revival of Philip Barry's "Holiday"
1996:
Reunited with director Gregory Hoblit as the assistant district attorney prosecuting a murder case against her former lover (Richard Gere) in "Primal Fear"
1997:
Handpicked by Clint Eastwood for co-starring role in "Absolute Power"
1998:
Returned to Broadway opposite Robert Foxworth and Jane Alexander in "Honour"
1998:
Reprised role of Mary Ann in the sequel "Armistead Maupin's 'More Tales of the City'" (Showtime)
1998:
Appeared as Jim Carrey's wife in the acclaimed feature "The Truman Show"
1999:
Starred in the TV adaptation of A R Gurney's play "Love Letters" (ABC), directed by Stanley Donen
2000:
Garnered praise for her performance as a single mother coping with her n'er-do-well brother in the Sundance-screened "You Can Count on Me"
2000:
Returned to the Broadway stage in a revival of Chekhov's "Uncle Vanya"
2000:
Portrayed the brilliant campaign manager of a politician seeking his party's presidential nomination in the TNT movie "Running Mates"
2000:
Delivered a scene-stealing turn as society matron Bertha Dorset in "The House of Mirth"
2001:
Again reprised Mary Ann Singleton in "Armistead Maupin's 'Further Tales of the City'" (Showtime)
2002:
Was featured in the ensemble of "The Laramie Project", about the murder of gay college student Matthew Shepard; premiered at Sundance before airing on HBO
2002:
Returned to the NYC stage starring opposite Liam Neeson in "The Crucible"
2002:
Received an Emmy nomination for her role in "Wild Iris"
2003:
Played an activist entangled with a man who is convicted of rape and murder in the drama "The Life of David Gale"
2003:
Had a supporting role as the wife of Sean Penn's character in the drama "Mystic River," directed by Clint Eastwood
2004:
Portrayed a love interest for Kelsey Grammer's character in the NBC sitcom "Frasier"
2004:
Earned a Tony nomination for her performance in the Broadway play "Sight Unseen"
2004:
Cast opposite Liam Neeson, as Alfred Kinsey's wife in "Kinsey"
2005:
Portrayed the lawyer defending Father Moore (Tom Wilkinson), the priest who performed a controversial exorcism in "The Exorcism of Emily Rose"
2005:
Co-starred with Jeff Daniels in Noah Baumbach's "The Squid and the Whale"
2006:
Cast in Barry Levinson's "Man of the Year" opposite Robin Williams
2007:
Costarred with Philip Seymour Hoffman in "The Savages," as adult siblings who are forced to take care of their estranged father; premiered at Sundance
2007:
Cast as Mrs. X, the head of a wealthy Manhattan household in "The Nanny Diaries"
2008:
Portrayed Abigail Adams, wife of the second US president in the HBO mini-series "John Adams"
2010:
Returned to Broadway to star as a photojournalist sidelined by a war injury in Donald Margulies's "Time Stands Still"; earned a Tony Award nomination for Leading Actress in a Play
2010:
Starred in Showtime's "The Big C," about a suburban high school teacher who's diagnosed with a terminal case of skin cancer, and decides to turn her life around
2011:
Nominated for the 2011 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
2011:
Voiced the character of the North Pole Computer in the animated feature "Arthur Christmas"
2012:
Portrayed Margaret Suckley, the distant cousin and confidante of Franklin D. Roosevelt (Bill Murray) in "Hyde Park on Hudson"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Northwestern University: Evanston , Illinois -
Brown University: Providence , Rhode Island - 1986
The Juilliard School: New York , New York - 1989

Notes

"I have worked closely with a lot of great actresses on the stage and on television, but I've been in a lot of boy movies. The formula calls for all these guys and one girl ... Unfortunately, most good roles for women are in lower-budget, independent films, and those filmmakers work with the people they know."---Laura Linney quoted in Movieline, May 1996.

"I have the Cindy Brady complex. You know that episode of 'The Brady Bunch' where Cindy goes catatonic when she appears on a TV show? That was me. There are all these photos of me as a child with my hand in front of the camera. I always fear the camera is going to see everything bad about me. It's taken me a while to realize the camera is not some scary medical device."---Linney in Movieline, June 1995.

"I grew up in Manhattan and, since my father was a playwright, all I ever wanted to be was a stage actress. Not that I had anything against movies or TV, it's just that they were never anything that had entered my world and, quite frankly, I never thought I'd be any good in them."---Linney quoted in Venice, April 1996.

"When I first came [to Los Angeles], I had my lovely list of theatre credits. My resume was golden in my mind. I had worked regionally, I'd worked on Broadway. And a casting director looked at my resume and said `You really haven't done anything, have you?' I was just dumbstruck.

The attitude here is that theatre is what you do when you can't get filmwork, and that is just insulting to the marrow of my bones! I find that so hateful and so ignorant. What is our country, like, turning into? Are we going to just be a bunch of hicks? Don't get me started."---Laura Linney quoted in Toronto Sun, April 1, 1996.

"The great thing about Laura is that she didn't just prepare exhaustively and then stick to that. She was extremely open to other things happening. Mark [Ruffalo] was fast on his feet, too; they have a real generosity with each other. And I found I used her ideas as much as my own. In the editing room, I'd say, 'Oh, I'm glad she said that, because her idea was much better than mine.'"---"You Can Count on Me" writer-director Kenneth Lonergan quoted in Time Out New York, November 9-16, 2000.

"I wish our industry were a little more sympathetic when something doesn't quite work. Because it's what you learn during those times that trains you, so that something else can turn out right."---Linney quoted in Premiere, December 2000.

"I grew up in the theatre, my whole life was the theatre. I was terribly intimidated by TV and film and the whole lifestyle. The cameras scared me. I'm still camera shy,"---Linney quoted in London's Evening Standard, February 27, 2002.

"Good scripts, good actors, good directors. Why else would you do a movie?"---Laura Linney on how she picks her roles to THE TORONTO STAR, September 15, 2004.

Companions close complete companion listing

husband:
David Adkins. Actor. Born on November 12, 1962; met at Julliard; married in 1995; separated in early 2000.
companion:
Eric Stoltz. Actor. Dating as of 2001.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Romulus Linney. Professor, playwright. Born on September 21, 1930 in Philadelphia; divorced from Linney's mother in 1965.
mother:
Ann Leggett Perse. Nurse. Born c. 1939; divorced from Linney's father in 1965; worked at Sloan-Kettering, NYC.
step-mother:
Laura Callahan. Foundation official. Served as associate director of investments for the Rockefeller Foundation.
half-sister:
Susan Linney. Book editor. Born c. 1975.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

Please support TCMDB by adding to this information.

Click here to contribute