You'd think an actress who's appeared in nine movies over the past four years would be used to seeing herself on the big screen. But Laura Linney admits she still has difficulty watching any film she appears in. "I've gotten better at it over time," confesses the Oscar-nominated actress. "I'll watch a movie once or sometimes twice if I can bear it. The thing is, you're dying to see the movie to see what everyone else has done and then this thing shows up that's you, and you want to throw yourself off a bridge.
"It's a very unnatural thing to watch yourself on screen," she continues. "You check yourself out in the mirror, but you don't watch yourself in action for two hours at a time. To hear your voice outside of your own head is very [strange]. Thankfully, I'm better at it, but there are still a million things I would rather do than watch myself."
In the just-released Kinsey, Linney plays Clara, the little-known wife of controversial sex scientist Alfred Kinsey (Liam Neeson). Getting into that character was tough. "There wasn't a lot of information about Clara," says Linney. "There were photographs I was able to look at and film footage of her walking. The most helpful thing was an audiotape where she was being interviewed. That was what finally gave me a sense of her wit and her thought process."
Writer/director Bill Condon (Gods and Monsters) also asked her to plump up her normally svelte figure for the part. "He didn't want a contemporary body," Linney recalls. "I gained around 22 pounds for the film. It was easy to gain that weight — losing it was more difficult."
Her costar had it a little easier. "I intended to put on weight because Kinsey was a jowly man," says Neeson. "But I've found that when I put on weight, I just look stronger. So I did the opposite; I dropped a few pounds to appear meeker."
Linney's weight challenges didn't end with Kinsey. Immediately after wrapping production, she went straight into shooting P.S., in which she plays a lonely divorcée who has a fling with a younger man (Topher Grace). "I had only two days off between movies and, of course, they wanted me to be sleek and sexy for P.S.," she laughs. "I said 'Folks, there's only so much I can do!' I tried to lose as much as I could responsibly; I went on a food plan called Five Squares, which is a food delivery service. I started that about two-thirds of the way into Kinsey, when the fat suits went on top of the weight I had gained. I was able to lose about half the weight by the time P.S. started."
Next up for Linney is a small indie film called The Squid and the Whale with Jeff Daniels. She's also about to start shooting an untitled courtroom drama that will be out next year. "It's based on a true story about a girl who went through several exorcisms and then died, and her priest is on trial. I'm in it along with Tom Wilkinson and Campbell Scott."