This article is from 2006.
Actress Laura Linney talks to James Mottram about the two very different films she’ll be promoting in Edinburgh.
Laura Linney has always liked to juxtapose wildly different films. Compare her recent New York family drama The Squid and The Whale to supernatural courtroom drama The Exorcism of Emily Rose. Or 2003’s Richard Curtis mega rom-com Love Actually following Clint Eastwood’s overwrought Mystic River. So it’s no surprise to find the 42 year-old New Yorker in two contrary projects at this year’s EIFF, both of which take her far away from her native postcode.
The first is the much anticipated Jindabyne, the new film from Ray Lawrence, director of the sublime Lantana. Based on the Raymond Carver short story So Much Water So Close To Home, already an inspiration for Robert Altman’s Short Cuts, it tells the story of a group of men on a fishing trip (including Gabriel Byrne) who discover the dead body of an Aboriginal woman in the river. When they ignore the corpse and return home, their actions send shock waves through the community. ‘It’s about things that haunt you from the past more than anything else,’ says Linney, who plays Byrne’s beleaguered wife Claire. ‘I loved that Ray put it in an Australian setting, and dipped into the politics and history of the Aboriginal people.’
Her second film this festival is British, returning her to the feelgood turf of Love Actually. Written and directed by Jeremy Brock, who penned such British period films as Mrs Brown and Charlotte Gray, Driving Lessons casts Linney as an overbearing church-going mother to Harry Potter star Rupert Grint. ‘It’s a coming of age story for him,’ confirms Linney, an apt description of Grint’s shy teenager who is brought out of his shell when he becomes a personal assistant to Julie Walters’ grumpy actress. The most traumatic element for Linney was being forced to dye her blonde hair to match up with Grint’s distinctive carrot crop. ‘My hair was tinted red,’ she says. ‘Not completely red. But strawberry red.’
Still, with five films currently in post-production, including Ethan Hawke’s adaptation of his own novel The Hottest State and Barry Levinson’s presidential comedy Man of the Year, Linney has barely had time to reflect on such hairy experiences. ‘It sounds terrible but there hasn’t been a whole lot of relaxing,’ she says. ‘Honest to God. I don’t remember how I did it. I’m going to have to learn how. You get to a point where you just don’t have a choice. You have to stop or else everything is going to suffer. Everything.’
Jindabyne, Cineworld, 623 8030, 17 Aug, 7pm & 19 Aug, 5.30pm, £7.45 (£5.20). Driving Lessons, Cineworld, 25 Aug, 5.30pm & Dominion, 623 8030, 26 Aug, 4pm, £7.95 (£5.20).