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Jindabyne - Laura Linney interview

Laura Linney in Jindabyne

Compiled by Jack Foley

LAURA Linney talks about Australian drama Jindabyne, some of the difficult issues it raises and why she was drawn to working with Ray Lawrence and the Australian environment…

When did you first read the story of Jindabyne?
I read the script two or three years ago. Anthony LaPaglia called me on the phone and said there’s a script coming your way that a really great director is doing and you should do it. I listened to Anthony and kept an eye out for it. When it arrived, I read it and loved it. It’s based on the Raymond Carver short story so the primary resource was such a beautifully written piece of work and the script was equally wonderful. When you have material that’s that good, in the hands of someone who has such insight, and you’re filming in a remarkable location, it’s hard to say no.

Can you tell us about your character, Claire?
My character is an American who married an Irishman and lives in Jindabyne with their young son. She’s haunted by the consequences of her life and some of the choices she has made. Their marriage is challenging, as most marriages are. They’ve weathered a lot, they have a lot to weather, they have a great love for each other but they’re trying to figure each other out.

What was working with Ray Lawrence like?
He has extreme faith and trust in his actors and crew. I’ve always found that when you do things for the right reasons, and that’s not always possible to do all the time because we’re human beings, but if you really try and do things for the right resasons, everything sort of works out. He has been very thoughtful and respectful to the story, why the story is being told, what’s being told, who is telling it and he just stays out of the way. He guides it beautifully. It’s his movie, through and through. But he lets everyone do what it is they know how to do, and then he braids it together in this fabulous creation.

The entire movie is one take. I’ve worked on movies before that are one take but not an entire film. He only works with natural light, so there’s very little equipment around, and things move very fast. I’ve worked this way in the past, with Clint Eastwood, so I’ve had a bit of experience with it. And I’m very glad I’ve had that experience to prepare me for this one. You learn a lot about relaxation and how to trust the story and not to think too much about yourself. The trick is to sort of move in through the scene and just move out of it. If you start thinking too much about, “it’s only one take and I’ve got to get it right”, nothing will happen and it won’t be very interesting. So there’s just a sense of staying calm, knowing what you’re doing, being invested in what you’re doing and trying not to predict what’s really going to happen when the camera rolls.

What was it like working in Australia and in the Jindabyne landscape in particular?
You know, as someone who is not accustomed to this environment, I’ve never seen a sky that felt so much like a dome. I’ve never seen a landscape that was so vast. Vast! We have Montana and Wyoming in the US but nothing like Jindabyne. Being in a country that’s so large, and with so few people, there’s this wonderful power to the nature and the beauty of the landscape.
On a daily basis it affects you, both positively and negatively. It can be a little disquieting at times and then other times it can be so beautiful. You feel so fortunate to look around and there’s no other person in sight. You’re looking hundreds of miles in every direction. So there’s an odd emotional balance to that. There’s a real confluence of energies pulling you in different directions. The magnificent beauty, at times, is daunting because it’s so wild.

Can you talk about the notion of the difference between men and women in the story?
There’s a split, without a doubt. You do wonder if three women had gone fishing and found a man floating in the water, what would they have done? The very nature of what and who a man is, and what and who a woman is, really comes into play. And the complexities of that. There are certain things that men will never understand about women and certain things that women will never understand about men. I think that’s part of what keeps us together. It’s part of the nature of the two sexes, how you can be so close intellectually and physically and so divided. It just opens up into unknown and frightening territory about the sexes.

What do the men and women have in common?
Everyone in this movie is struggling for something that is a little beyond them. They’re struggling for some sense of life or identity or place, or something. Things are shifting for everyone.

Read our review of Jindabyne