DFS honors actress Laura Linney
By Evan Lambert, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Thursday, October 9, 2008
In an era when Tinseltown's celebrities are infamous for temper tantrums and dubious talent, Laura Linney has earned a reputation as not only an Oscar-caliber actress, but also as an anti-diva.
This Friday Linney brings her refreshingly laid-back attitude to the Hopkins Center of the Arts. At "A Tribute to Actress Laura Linney," the Dartmouth Film Society will present her with the Dartmouth Film Award.
Bill Pence, director of Hopkins Center Film and co-founder of the Telluride Film Festival, described Laura Linney as "genuine, self-effacing and extremely easy to talk to."
Pence has met Linney in person and introduced her to her eventual fiancÃ©, Mark Schauer, at the 2004 Telluride Festival. Every guest at the festival was paired with a host for the weekend, and Pence matched Linney with Schauer.
"Laura could be called the 'actor's actor' of her generation, because her peers look up to her as being at the top of her field," Pence said.
Pence believes students will relate to Linney because she is so comfortable in her own skin. "You don't have to worry about upsetting or offending her -- in a sense, she's the perfect guest," he said.
Friday's tribute features an hour-long compilation of Linney's film and television oeuvre, followed by an on-stage interview conducted by A.J. Fox, DFS director. A question-and-answer session with the audience will follow Fox's interview. Fox is a member of The Dartmouth Senior Staff.
"When somebody gets a lifetime achievement award at the Oscars, their whole career can be summed up in less than five minutes, but using a film-TV compilation lets us give people a much more comprehensive sense of what an actress like Laura Linney has accomplished," Fox said.
Many know Linney for her Oscar-nominated performances in "The Savages" (2007),"Kinsey" (2004) and "You Can Count On Me" (2000), but rave reviews date back to the 1990s Broadway production of "The Seagull".
Linney won Emmys for her television performances in "John Adams" (2008), "Frasier" (2003-2004) and "Wild Iris" (2001).
She also frequently returns to theater, including a recent Tony-nominated role in Arthur Miller's play "The Crucible" (2002).
"I think what's cool about Laura Linney as an actress is that not only does she embody all these different characters with incredible thoroughness but she does so in such a way that you almost never lose consciousness of the fact that you're witnessing a 'performance,'" Fox said.
Linney believes in separating her own personality and experiences from those of the characters she plays, according to past interviews.
"I have always believed that my personal baggage, my personal pain, my personal happiness, my sense of joy doesn't belong to the character," she said in an interview with National Public Radio.
Despite Linney's current fame and recognition, her career has not always been glamorous.
Her first high-profile screen appearance was in "Congo" (1995) alongside a hyper-intelligent ape.
"She was definitely the best thing about that movie," Fox said.
Linney then continued on to take roles in films such as "Primal Fear" (1996)and "The Truman Show" (1998). After her Oscar nomination for "You Can Count On Me," she took on meatier roles in "Mystic River" and "The Squid and the Whale."
Linney's former co-stars in "Mystic River" -- Kevin Bacon and Sean Penn -- have also received Dartmouth Film Society Tributes in the past. Meryl Streep, whom Pence called Linney's role model, won the award in 1997.
"Laura still looks up to her," he said. "They're both very serious actresses, and among the best of their respective generations."
"A Tribute to Actress Laura Linney" will take place in the Spaulding Auditorium at the Hopkins Center on Friday, October 10 at 7:30 p.m.