Roadside Attractions opens Mr. Holmes nationwide on July 17th, 2015.
NYC MOVIE GURU: Do you make a conscious decision to seek out roles that have substance?
Laura Linney: They are things that I'm attracted to. I would love to say that I had the power to make those choices. The reality, is that most people don't. I'm just lucky that it's what I'm interested in--hopefully I'm not bad at it.
NYC MOVIE GURU: How did you tap into the inner world of your character to figure out what's going on inside her head?
LL: There's a lot going on. It could be just a movie about the housekeeper. The most important thing was when [director] Bill Condon was talking to me about the part. It was very important for him to investigate the war widow aspect of her storyline, and that's what informed everything---and learning more and more about those women who were widowed during that war. Here's a woman who, I made the decision, was not a housekeeper, and never wanted to be a housekeeper, but now had to be a housekeeper in a house with a man who she could care less that he was a detective or famous or an icon. All-of-a-sudden, she has to take care of a very large household which she doesn't know how to do. She's not very good at it---she has to cook, but she's not a cook. She has a young son who she adores and who's beginning to find her oppressive and doesn't think she's very bright. She feels his affection slipping away.
NYC MOVIE GURU: In a way, your character is going through an emotional battle. Do you think she's winning that battle?
LL: She's not doing too well. She's having a hard time. It's not a pretty picture.
NYC MOVIE GURU: How would you rate her parenting skills?
LL: For the time, parenting in the 40's is very different from what it is now. She was doing the best that she could, but I think she was used to a family of 3. The missing link that is her husband provided a lot. They worked very well as a triad, but now that it's a duo, she can't give her son the fun that her husband did.
NYC MOVIE GURU: If you were to meet her, what questions would you ask her? What would you talk to her about?
LL: I think that she's so far removed from my experience that I don't really know how to start talking to her, really.
NYC MOVIE GURU: What questions would you ask Sherlock Holmes?
LL: There's so much I'd like to know. He's such a brilliant and mysterious person. I'd want to know why he's such a loner. What's the choice about being alone? Do you just think that every one else is stupid? Are you bored by everyone? What do you like other than the violin? Are you still a drug addict? What was the relationship like with your brother?
NYC MOVIE GURU: Do you think Sherlock Holmes would feel lonely if he were around today?
LL: Sherlock Holmes is a loner, very much so, so I think he would be a loner today. I think there's also an unfeeling thing to Sherlock Holmes that's not that far away from people in our daily lives.
NYC MOVIE GURU: Would Sherlock Holmes would survive U.S. politics?
LL: No. He'd make everybody feel stupid.
NYC MOVIE GURU: How would you cheer up your grieving character?
LL: When you're in the depths of grief, and everything you knew that makes you feel whole or complete is gone, there's not a whole lot there. The only thing that gave her pleasure is her son smiling at her. When that kid stops smiling at her, then his mom falls out.
NYC MOVIE GURU: How has your experience in theater enhanced your work in film? How do you manage to find the emotional truth of your roles so effectively?
LL: It certainly has everything to do with the approach of how you do things. It has everything to do with my hope to help the story move forward. For me, it's always story first and then you just fill in how to make that story as full can possibly be--the pace of the scene, the arc of the whole film. People who work in theater look at scripts a different way. Film and theater are so different. I hope that film makes the theater work better instead of the theater making the film work better. It's fun to stretch and work in different environments. The biggest difference between film and theater is time. What you get in theater is time. Time is an ingredient that works on things in its own way. You can't force it or generate it; everything is enhanced over time. It's something that you don't have control over. You don't have that in film. Everything happens very quickly, so you hope that you can capture some of the depth of the roundness of the performance.
NYC MOVIE GURU: How do you shake off your roles emotionally?
LL: I don't have that problem at all. Some do. Fortunately, I've never been haunted that way. I never take a character home. I'm sure it affects my mood in a way that I'm maybe not aware of, but you do it and have a great time doing it and then you go home.
NYC MOVIE GURU: What would make a great double feature with Kelly & Cal?
LL: Probably. Part of it is in black-and-white. But there's something about the way this film is shot. It's so rich and beautiful to look at. I've always wanted to be in a movie that looks like this movie does. There's something about the depth of the color, the framing and the clothes.
NYC MOVIE GURU: At heart, are you a country girl like your character or more of a city girl?
LL: I'm so both. I could so go back and forth. Fortunately, I'm very happy wherever I am, which is really good. I have a very hard time leaving where I am, but then when I get to the next place, I'm always very happy there too, so I try to remind myself of that whenever I go from place to place, but I love the city, and I adore the country.
NYC MOVIE GURU: Which actor or actress from the Golden Age of American Cinema would you have liked to work with?
LL: Spencer Tracy.