ML - Michigan Avenue

Michigan Avenue - 2017 - Issue 4 - Fall - LauraLinney

Michigan Avenue - Niche Media - Michigan Avenue magazine is a luxury lifestyle magazine centered around Chicago’s finest people, events, fashion, health & beauty, fine dining & more!

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have turned out really well, you have such little control over it that some of it is sniffing out just to see if the right elements are involved. Is there potential for something good happening? Sometimes there's no reason for it to be good, and it just turns out [that way]. A lot of it is script. What's the potential of the story? Is it actable? Because a lot of things are not actable. I've said this a lot—you get the scripts and they're not written to be acted, they're not written to be turned into a piece of entertainment or a piece of art. They're meant to be greenlit. They're not written thinking about the actual performance aspect or the production side of it. So I really look to see what's there, and I can always tell when I'm reading a script if my actor brain is turned on, if I start working on a project before I finish reading the script—if I can't help myself, then I know I have to pay attention to it. And then of course the people involved, because even if you have a great script and then you have people who you don't see eye to eye [with] or you're just not going to get along, that's just not fun anymore at my age! You're one of the few actors who have moved very fluidly between television, film, and stage. Which is your greatest passion? It used to always be stage, because I grew up in the theater and I studied the theater, and film and television were the big surprise for me. But the more I do film and television, the more I enjoy it, because they are very separate—your preparation is different and the execution is different. If I was forced to choose— and I'm very glad I don't have to—it would be stage, just because I've been doing it the longest, and it's ultimately where I'm the most comfortable. What's been the proudest moment of your career so far? Getting into Juilliard. More than anything, that was the most important thing, as opposed to any job. I could point to five or six jobs that were important and I grew and I was recognized for the work and all of that. But really, at the end of the day, the most important thing that has happened to me was getting into Juilliard. You've maintained a close connection to Juilliard. I gave a commencement speech a few years ago, and then I was asked to join the board of the school. So I'm a trustee there, and I try to stick my head in the drama department as much as I can whenever I have the time. I love being involved there. I love the faculty. I love the students. It's a place where my concentration sort of works on a different level. And it's an excellent reminder for me about the core of our work and why we do it. Let's talk about your connection to Chicago. I went to Northwestern for my freshman year, and I liked the school a lot, but it ultimately wasn't the place for me. And I didn't really get into Chicago, into the city, a whole lot. So I didn't really get to know it. And then I met my husband, who grew up in Hinsdale, and his family. His sister now lives in Oak Park, and his parents are right in the city next to the lake. Now I go there quite often. I'm actually headed there next week. And I love it. It's just a great city. So I love that I have a sort of second home in another city. Having grown up in New York and being so New York-centric, to now have a solid connection to another American city the way that I do to Chicago is just fun. I love the architecture, I love Millennium Park—I love the size of Chicago. Everything's big: The weather is big, the buildings, the streets, the lake. It's just big, and it's bold, and it's solid. Those buildings—the huge buildings that take up blocks of space—it sort of represents an abundance of this American energy that I really love, while at the same time feeling intimate. And because of the lake, and the lake effect, there's always a sense of circulation going on there. Whether it's the wind or just the movement of water back and forth, it's constantly percolating. Are there any particular places that you and your family love to go? Al's Beef and Johnnie's in Oak Park. Both classics. That's the first [thing] that is attended to whenever we get into Chicago. My husband insists on that being the first meal. Are you an Italian beef person or more of a hot dog person? I'm a full-on opportunity person. I will do it all. But it's really good. And the pizzas are amazing. Being a New Yorker, New York pizza is New York pizza. But Chicago pizza is carving out a big place in my heart at the moment, I must say. Obviously Chicago's theater scene is very robust as well. Can you imagine yourself taking the stage here? Oh, sure. Some of the best theater in the country is in Chicago, with the Goodman and Steppenwolf, and all the young companies like the Hypocrites. There's a lot of exciting work happening there, and the playwrights that are there. So absolutely. You have a 3-year-old, Bennett. What's the most surprising thing you've experienced with motherhood? I think it was just how ready for it I was. You know, I had a child very late in life. It was something I didn't think was going to happen and then when it did, there's an extreme sense of gratitude that comes with that—when it almost passes you by and then doesn't. So I have loved every second of it and continue to, and I'm constantly amazed and delighted and challenged by all of it—even in the moments that people complain about. When Bennett was an infant and I was up with him at 4:30 in the morning and sleep-deprived and all of that, I can remember sitting with him and just having this overwhelming sense of, I've wanted to be right here for 20 years, and all of a sudden here I am. The benefit of being an older parent is everyone sort of says, 'Oh, your life is going to change,' and I was very ready for my life to change. And they're just fun—or at least I find being around my child a lot of fun. And it's challenging. You have the moments where you think, 'How do I deal with this? How in the world do I deal with a toddler who doesn't want to do what I want him to do?' You know, how do you help a human being navigate through the minefield of emotions when they're first really experiencing them, without being too overbearing? What's the balance? What's the right level of involvement as far as helping someone discover all that and then learning how to navigate themselves through it? [It's] big, important stuff, but I'm having a great time. With all the acclaim you've received over the years, what do you feel is left for you? What are your goals? My thinking is not as specific as that. I wish it was. It would make a lot of people very happy if I could point to things and say, 'I want to do that!' I just want to be better at what I do, and I want to keep learning. And I want to be stretched and do things that scare me a little bit, and experience the work that all these wonderful playwrights over the decades and centuries have done. You just want to contrib- ute. The arts are important, and it's worthy of our time to champion [them]. I just feel like there's so much more to discover. Are there any talents out there that you really admire and could see collaborating with? There are tons and tons. I hope at one point I get to work with Maggie Smith in some sort of capacity. Or Judi Dench. If you weren't an actor, what do you think you'd be doing? God only knows. I have no idea. I hope I'd be okay [laughs], but I really don't know if I would be. I am just so grateful I am right where I should be. And I know a lot of people never get to that place, so I certainly don't take that for granted, ever. . MICHIGANAVEMAG.COM  115 "I LOVE THE SIZE OF CHICAGO. EVERYTHING'S BIG: THE WEATHER IS BIG, THE BUILDINGS, THE STREETS, THE LAKE. IT'S JUST BIG, AND IT'S BOLD, AND IT'S SOLID."

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