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AFI Tribute to Laura Linney: Lessons in passion and grace
Tribute to Laura Linney: Lessons in passion and grace By MARC LEE for AFI online dailies
With speeches from Philip Seymour Hoffman, Mark Ruffalo, an introduction by LA Weekly film critic and editor Scott Foundas and a wealth of stunning film clips, AFI FEST's tribute to Laura Linney brought the ArcLight audience to its feet more than once.
Appearing at the AFI FEST Rooftop Village with fiance Marc Schauer, Linney had a brief moment of calm before having her portrait taken and forging onto the red carpet, where flashbulbs from rows of photographers stacked four deep awaited her.
Soon after, she was at the crowded ArcLight where critic Foundas remarked in his introduction that it was unusual to have a tribute to somebody so early in their career; but considering Linney's body of work, it's absolutely deserved.
"When we see her onscreen, we think about people we know and love," he said. "She's the Girl Next Door: There's a modest and humble quality to her."
Ruffalo, who starred with Linney in YOU CAN COUNT ON ME, cracked that he was "a little depressed" when earlier in the night he found out Linney had a fiance. He then recounted a story from the COUNT ON ME set where the saddest moment was seeing her housed in a chicken coop.
"She grabbed me and said, 'We're in a chicken coop!' I didn't believe her, and she said, "Look! That's chicken shit!'" he recalled. "Hollywood is sometimes like a giant chicken coop, and she has navigated her career through it with beauty and grace."
Next up came an obviously emotional Hoffman, who remembered seeing Linney performing theater when he was an up-and-coming actor.
"It was one of those moments where you say, 'I've seen quite a bit of acting and I know acting, but what the fuck is that? Oh, shit! You're supposed to be that good?"
Linney walked onto the stage in a red dress discussed her career with Foundas, despite a touch of laryngitis and an injured finger.
The two discussed her career in film - and theater, where she started.
"I didn't want to be an actor," she said. "I started out working for the stage. It took me a long time to admit it. It was something I had to learn... I was scared to death of film acting. But now one of the unexpected joys is my life in film acting."
When considering projects, she starts with the script.
"With YOU CAN COUNT ON ME and THE SAVAGES - they were two of the best scripts I've come across. ... With a good script, your actor brain turns on and you begin to get ideas. The writing gives you clues about what to do."
She remarked on physicality in her roles, after a clip of her swimming through frigid water in JINDABYNE:
"These are the things they don't teach you in drama school. But you can't shy away from it. You just learn to jump in."
And on whether she chooses roles based on how closely they resemble her:
"I tend to stay far away from my own stuff. If you make it too personal, you have to move past it. If you impose yourself on the script it's not the character's journey, it's my journey."
Nonetheless, everybody was happy with a little personal time with her last night.
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AFI FEST presented by Audi is the longest-running film festival in Los Angeles and one of the most influential film festivals in North America. Each year the Festival presents one of the world's most anticipated showcases of international film, demonstrating AFI's commitment to celebrating the art form.
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