“When people ask me, ‘What was your big break?’ I say it was going to Julliard.” – Laura Linney
Four-time Emmy Award-winner and three-time Oscar nominee Laura Linney obviously knows a thing or two about being a successful actress. Recently, Linney sat for an interview with writer/director James Naughton about acting at Lincoln Center’s Bruno Walter Auditorium. Linney spoke about what her acting education — both in school and from fellow actors — taught her and offered her best piece of career advice.
Linney credits her education at Julliard for being what set herself up for success in acting. She says, “When people ask me, ‘What was your big break?’ I say it was going to Julliard. It’s a tough school, but it for me it was like water in the desert. Once it became clear to me that I could no longer be a ‘closet actress,’ that I was serious about acting, I knew I had to get trained. Juilliard was the right school for me.” After a sigh, she added, “I miss my time at Juilliard.”
Part of her education was working with fellow actor Kevin Kline, who coached her on how to work with director Clint Eastwood when Linney appeared in 1997’s Absolute Power, and later appeared in Eastwood’s Mystic River and Sully. That advice has helped her as an actress ever since. She recalls, “Kevin told me, ‘Film acting is all about relaxation.’ Clint does one take and no rehearsal. So I learned how to ‘simmer’ all day, to save my energy. I learned how to surrender. Not feeling prepared makes me nervous. I do a lot of work before I get there, which puts my own self-doubt to rest.”
Linney ended the interview by noting the best career decision she ever made. She says, “The only career decision I ever made is to cast the net wide, to not say ‘no’.” Then she added the only three things she needs to be a successful actress: “Sleep, quiet, and good coffee.”