Despite being a huge Bill Murray fan and a history buff, I knew Hyde Park on Hudson was going to be the type of movie that wasn’t for everyone once I saw it at the New York Film Festival. Reviews haven’t been kind, and many have named star Laura Linney‘s character as underutilized. Linney plays Daisy, the distant cousin of Murray’s Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who historians generally agree had an affair. Linney talks about Daisy’s reserved nature in an interview with NPR, and even answered some of the criticism leveled at her character.
One of the aspects of playing Daisy that Linney enjoyed most was the fact that the character was so reserved. She explains, “It was fun. And also, knowing that she was a photographer helped me a lot. So she wasn’t just staring, she was actually seeing a lot. And it’s sort of a relief not to be overly verbal. It’s nice to be able just to sit and … witness, you know — and she was very much a witness.”
Nevertheless, Linney is mindful of critical reviews of the film (which have largely been mixed-to-negative) which have generally pointed to her character as underdeveloped. On those criticisms she says, “You know, well, it certainly doesn’t feel great, particularly when people don’t see it as a choice. However, it would have been completely inappropriate for her to have been any other way. That’s how a woman of that time, of her disposition, would have been. And maybe it’s, it’s puzzling and difficult to sort of comprehend how someone would be that way, particularly from all of us sitting in today’s world, with … a sense of women’s liberation … and communication flying, you know, in technological ways that are so beyond anything that happened at that time. But I think it was part of what she has to offer — is that she is quiet, and she is modest.”
But perhaps her feelings relating to Daisy have to do with her own secretive nature, as Linney kept her acting dreams secret for several years early in her career. She confesses, “It took me a very long time to admit it. … I just didn’t think it was something I should go around saying. I don’t know why. And I really felt like I had to earn it before I could say it. It took really until I was deep into my training at Juilliard [before] I began to feel like I could say, ‘I’m studying to be an actress.’ But it did — it took me a while. I just didn’t feel right about it.”