A flawed, messy character
In her film “The Savages,” written and directed by Tamara Jenkins, Laura Linney [imdb] plays Wendy Savage, an aspiring playwright and temp office worker.
“She’s not a typical protagonist,” Linney says [in the article Anything but typical, by Mark Olsen, Los Angeles Times, Nov 29, 2007].
“She lies, she cheats, she steals, she’s in a relationship with a married man. She’s emotionally really immature, and yet she is also capable of great empathy, she’s very smart and she’s a total narcissist. She’s this contradiction of things, like one of those wave machines, she goes to one side and then the other. She’s all over the place.”
Jenkins was confident that Linney would be able “to handle the tone of the film, that she was capable of the flawed, messy humor of it and would also be able to connect to the pathos of it.”
The script comes first, then instinct
“It’s always been for me script first,” Linney said. “I don’t tend to take my deep personal experiences and layer it onto a script. It’s my experience, not the character’s experience, and it might not be appropriate. But also, having said that, I know that whatever residue of experience I have is going to bleed through anyway. I don’t even need to tap into it, it’s going to come through anyway.”
The article author, Mark Olsen, writes that “she still considers herself a student of acting, pushing herself to connect more deeply with the mysteries of human behavior.”
“It’s a combination of all that technical stuff,” she said, “and then instinct. That’s the other part of it, the more mystical part of it even I don’t understand. When I say I listen to what the script tells me to do, I don’t quite know how to explain that.”