While Laura Linney has found success in an array of roles on screen, she insists she will never abandon her first love theatre. "I have a firm rule to be on stage every other season," says the thespian and multi-Oscar nominee.
Born in New York on February 5, 1964, Laura is the daughter of respected off-Broadway playwright Romulus Linney. And although her parents divorced while she was young, Laura received plenty of exposure to the stage world, becoming a self professed "theatre kid". "My parents were divorced and I didn't grow up with (my father), but I spent a lot of time around him, and his influence on me has been profound," she later reflected.
As a youngster she worked behind the scenes in the theatre and made the jump to acting by trying her hand at various bit parts in her early-teens. Following prep school in Massachusetts, the budding thesp attended Brown University - graduating in 1986 with a degree in theatre arts. She continued her academic career at the prestigious Julliard school in New York and it was here Laura made her professional acting debut in The Matriarch and Top Girls.
Her transition to the big screen came in 1992 when she landed a small role in Lorenzo's Oil. Although more minor film parts followed, she continued to work in theatre before accepting her first onscreen lead in the 1995 adaptation of Michael Crichton's Congo.
While the film was panned by critics and audiences alike, Laura insists her participation in the picture was an important step in her career. "It's where I learned to be on a movie set," she says, adding: "there was no acting required, but I must have caught somebody's attention".
Her next effort was far more successful. Turning in a riveting performance in the crime-thriller Primal Fear as an attorney trying to help save an altar-boy accused of a crime he claims he did not commit, she caught the attention of Clint Eastwood. The Tinseltown veteran was so impressed he cast her as his attorney daughter in the 1997 political-thriller Absolute Power. Laura worked with Clint again in the Oscar winner Mystic River.
"I loved Absolute Power and I loved making Mystic River," says Laura of her collaborations with the actor-director heavyweight. "Everyone who worked with Clint loves working with him. He's so good at what he does."
Next came a role opposite Jim Carrey in Peter Weir's highly acclaimed blockbuster The Truman Show, after which Laura chose to concentrate on low-budget projects. These included the period piece The House of Mirth and Kenneth Lonergan's indie sensation You Can Count On Me, where she plays a small-town single mother whose life is turned upside-down when her wayward brother visits. The performance earned her a slew of gongs, including best actress from the National Society of Film Critics and the New York Film Critics Circle, as well as an Oscar nod.
Of late the actress has appeared alongside Liam Neeson in both film and theatre productions. The pair starred together in the Broadway production of Arthur Miller's The Crucible which earned Laura a Tony nomination and also hooked up on screen for the successful Love Actually and 2004's Kinsey. The latter brought yet more plaudits, including a Golden Globe and an Oscar nomination.
And as her career goes from strength to strength Laura is clear about her future goals. "What I hope in my ideal world is that with each project, I'll either get to work with a really great script that would force me to grow, or work with a really great actor who will make me better."