Also Credited As:Laura Legett Linney
|Laura Legett Linney on February 5, 1964 in New York City, New York, USA|
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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).