Laura Linney Biography

Actress, Film Actress, Film Actor/Film Actress, Television Actress (1964–)
Laura Linney is an American actress known for performances in such films as Lorenzo's Oil and Hyde Park on Hudson, and for her starring role on the television series The Big C.


Born in New York City on February 5, 1964, Laura Linney's first film role was in 1992's Lorenzo's Oil, but she made a bigger impression with her role the following year, in Dave (1993). She nabbed her first lead role on TV in 1994, with Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City. In 2000, Linney turned in one of her most critically acclaimed performances, starring as the practical single mother Sammy Prescott in the independent film You Can Count on Me. Following various other film performances, in 2010, the actress landed the lead part in Showtime's acclaimed series The Big C. Linney continues to add film roles to her resume, including a part in the 2012 dramatic comedy Hyde Park on Hudson.

Early Life

Born on February 5, 1964, in New York City, to playwright Romulus Linney and nurse Ann Leggett Perse, Laura Linney grew up on Manhattan's Upper East Side. Her parents divorced when she was only 6 months old. The young Linney amused herself by nurturing her love of acting, which she pursued throughout her adolescence. She graduated from Brown University in 1986 with a degree in theater, then completed a graduate program in drama at the Juilliard School in New York City, where she roomed with fellow actress Jeanne Tripplehorn (Basic Instinct and The Firm).

Stage and Film Debut

In 1990, Linney landed a job as an understudy in the New York stage production of Six Degrees of Separation. She eventually took over the part, making her off-Broadway and Broadway debuts. Her first film role was as a young teacher in Lorenzo's Oil (1992), starring Nick Nolte, but she made a bigger impression on audiences for her small but memorable role in Dave (1993), in which she plays a White House secretary who has an affair with the president (played by Kevin Kline).

Early Career

Laura Linney nabbed her first lead role on television in 1994, earning raves for her performance as the naïve Mary Ann Singleton in the edgy PBS adaptation of Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City. She would reprise the role in the sequel, shown on Showtime in 1998. A third installment aired in 2001. On the big screen, she continued to add film roles to her resume, playing opposite Steve Martin in the little-seen film A Simple Twist of Fate (1994), and co-starring in the adventure-thriller Congo (1995), which was a hit at the box office but a bust with critics. In 1997, Linney played the ex-lover and courtroom opponent of star Richard Gere's character in the thriller Primal Fear, also featuring Edward Norton and Frances McDormand. She also appeared as the daughter of Clint Eastwood's character in the political thriller Absolute Power (1997).

While building her career in Hollywood, Linney continued her impressive work in theater, giving a breakthrough performance in Sight Unseen in 1992, and starring opposite Tony Goldwyn in the Broadway revival of Philip Barry's Holiday in 1995. She returned to the Great White Way in 1998, co-starring in Honour with Jane Alexander. Also in 1998, Linney had her largest mainstream film role yet, appearing as Meryl, the too-good-to-be-true wife of Jim Carrey's Truman Burbank in The Truman Show, co-starring Ed Harris and directed by Peter Weir. Playing a loyal wife and product pitchwoman on the ultimate reality television show, Linney displayed considerable comic ability that caught the attention of many critics.


In 2000, Linney starred opposite Derek Jacobi in Uncle Vanya. But she turned in her most critically acclaimed performance of that year in her first bona fide movie lead, starring as the practical single mother Sammy Prescott in the independent film You Can Count on Me (2000). The movie, co-starring Mark Ruffalo as Sammy's rebellious brother, Terry, and Matthew Broderick as her uptight bank manager boss, shared the top prize at the Sundance Film Festival. Linney's performance in particular won raves and numerous critics' awards, including an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress.

In addition to her triumph in You Can Count on Me, Linney appeared as the scheming society wife Bertha Dorset in the film adaptation of Edith Wharton's The House of Mirth (2000). The drama also starred Gillian Anderson as the ill-fated woman who gets on Bertha's bad side. That same year, she starred in the well-reviewed TV movie Running Mates.

Awards and Recognition

Linney won her first Emmy Award in 2002, for her performance in another TV movie, Wild Iris. The film told the story of a single mother who moves back in with her mother to run the family bridal business. In 2004, Linney won her second Emmy Award for her role as the love interest for Frasier Crane in the TV sitcom Frasier, and in 2008 she was honored for her acting abilities once again when she was awarded yet another Emmy, as well as a Golden Globe and a Screen Actors' Guild award, for her portrayal of First Lady Abigail Adams in the HBO mini-series John Adams.

The actress also performed in a series of critically acclaimed film roles around this time. Her 2004 performance in Kinsey, a biopic about sexual behavior researcher Alfred Kinsey, earned her an Academy Award nomination that year. The next year, her performance in The Squid and the Whale, an indie drama, received a Golden Globe nomination. Her 2008 turn in The Savages, also starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, garnered a third Academy Award nomination.

In 2010, Linney was tapped to star in the Showtime series The Big C, for which she received another Golden Globe award. The show addresses a suburban mother's struggles with cancer, and her desire to live a truly fulfilling life. The show was renewed in 2012 for its fourth and final season. Linney won an Emmy Award for her work on the series' final season in 2013.

In addition to her television work, Linney appeared on Broadway in Time Stands Still in 2010. She has also made several films in recent years, including the 2012 dramatic comedy Hyde Park on Hudson. In the film, she plays the cousin and confidante of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (Bill Murray).

Personal Life

Linney married her Juilliard classmate and fellow actor David Adkins in 1995. The couple separated in early 2000. She married real estate agent Marc Shauer in 2009. Actor Liam Neeson walked her down the aisle.

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