Interview with Laura Linney

Can you tell us when you first read the story of ďJindabyneĒ?

I read the script two or three years ago. Anthony LaPaglia called me on the phone and said thereís a script coming your way that a really great director is doing and you should do it. And I listened to Anthony. So, I kept an eye out for it. It arrived. I read it, loved it, of course. Itís based on the Raymond Carver short story so the primary resource was such a beautifully written piece of work, and the script is equally wonderful. So when you have material thatís that good, in the hands of someone who has such insight, and youíre filming in a remarkable location, itís hard to say no.

Can you talk to us about Claire, your character?

My character is an American who married an Irishman and lives in Jindabyne with their young son. She is haunted by the consequences of her life and some of the choices that she has made. Their marriage is challenging, as most are. Theyíve weathered a lot, they have a lot to weather, they have a great love for each other, but theyíre trying to figure each other out.

Can you tell us what it is like work-ing with Ray Lawrence?

He has extreme faith and trust in his actors and his crew. Iíve always found that when you do things for the right reasons, and thatís not always possible to do all the time, because weíre human beings, but if you really try and do things for the right reasons, everything sort of works out. He has been very thoughtful and respectful to the story, why the story is being told, whatís being told, who is telling it and he just stays out of the way. He guides it beautifully. Itís his movie, through and through. But he lets everyone do what it is they know how to do, and then he braids it together in this fabulous creation. The entire movie is one take, and Iíve worked on movies before that are one take, but not an entire film. He only works with natural light, so thereís very little equipment around, and things move very fast. And, fortunately, Iíve worked this way in the past, with Clint Eastwood, so I have a little bit of experience with it. And Iím very glad that Iíve had that experience to prepare me for this one. You learn a lot about relaxation and how to trust the story and not think too much about yourself. The trick is to sort of move in through the scene and just move out of it. If you start thinking too much about, Ďitís only one take and Iíve got to get it rightí, nothing will happen and it wonít be very interesting. So there is just a sense of staying calm, knowing what youíre doing, being invested in what youíre doing and trying not to predict whatís really going to happen when the camera rolls.

As an actress, how do you prepare for working this way?

Well, I think you have to do as much work as you possibly can on your own and then you surrender. You surrender to the story, because thatís what Rayís doing. He has prepared and prepared and made every choice and every decision with great care and with fierce respect and responsibility towards the script and the story. And then he knows to step back and let the work unfold on its own. Everybody works very differently and I tend to work very differently on every single movie I do. With this one, I read the script over and over and over. I read it every day. In the United States there is the Arthur Murray School of Dance and they used to have these kits, I think in the fifties, that you could send away for. They would arrive at your house and it would be shoe prints that you would put on the floor and you would step from step one to step two to step three. A great script in the hands of a great director is a little bit like that. Between a really great director and a really great writer those steps are all there for you, and you just have to follow and the rest of it will. It is where skill and faith will intertwine.

Can you talk about the notion of difference between men and women in the story?

There is a split, without a doubt. You do wonder if three women had gone fishing and found a man floating in the water, what would they have done? The very nature of what and who a man is, and what and who a woman is, really comes into play. And the complexities of that. There are certain things that men will never understand about women and certain things that women will never understand about men. I think that is part of what keeps us together. It is part of the nature of the two sexes, how you can be so close intellectually and physically and so divided. It just opens up into unknown and frightening territory about the sexes. And all of that is bubbling under the surface as well.

What do the men and women have in common?

Everyone in this movie is struggling for something that is a little beyond them. They are struggling for some sense of life or identity or place, or something. Things are shifting for everybody.

What was it like working in Australia, and in the Jindabyne landscape in particular?

You know, as someone whoís not accustomed to this environment, Iíve never seen a sky that felt so much like a dome. Iíve never seen a landscape that was so vast. Vast! We have Montana and Wyoming in the United States, but nothing like Jindabyne. Being in a country that is so large, and with so few people, thereís this wonderful power to the nature and the beauty of the landscape. On a daily basis it affects you, both positively and negatively. It can be a little disquieting at times and then other times it can be so beautiful. You feel so fortunate to look around and thereís no other person in sight. Youíre looking hundreds of miles in every direction. So thereís an odd emotional balance to that. There is a real confluence of energies pulling you in different directions here. The magnificent beauty, at times, is daunting because it is so wild.

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