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Laura Linney has never been happier

Since her breakout role in 2000’s “You Can Count On Me," Linney has become one of the busiest and most sought-after actresses in film, television and theater.
/ Source: Reuters

Two-time Oscar nominee Laura Linney says she is the happiest she has ever been in her 43 years — quite unlike the character she portrays in her new movie “The Savages.”

The film, which debuts on Wednesday, is on many lists of must-see holiday movies due to performances by Philip Seymour Hoffman and Linney as siblings forced to place their father in a nursing home.

Since her breakout role in 2000’s “You Can Count On Me” — also about siblings in a time of crisis — Linney has become one of the busiest and most sought-after actresses in film, television and theater.

She was nominated for the best actress Oscar for “Count on Me” and supporting actress in 2004’s “Kinsey,” playing the long-suffering wife of sex researcher Alfred Kinsey. Her role as troubled sister Wendy in “The Savages” has raised speculation about another Oscar nomination.

“For me, things are nothing but good,” Linney told Reuters recently. “For Wendy, she’s living like she’s 28 (years old) or even 11. She just hasn’t had the opportunity to move forward.”

Wendy is a struggling playwright in her late 30s whose writing is overshadowed by that of her brother, a college drama professor and theater scholar.

She works as a temporary secretary, steals office supplies, is in a relationship with a married man, relies on sedatives to get through the day and consistently lies about her exploits — or, really, the lack thereof.

Family mattersWhen her father’s live-in companion dies, Wendy and her brother Jon Savage (Hoffman) must travel across the United States to take care of their dad (Philip Bosco), who suffers from dementia.

“They fumble their way through but the situation jolts their lives forward,” Linney said. “At the end of the day, they sense that they belong to each other and that’s comforting.”

The role of Wendy seems tailor-made for Linney, who is known for bringing complicated and nuanced characters to life.

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Linney, the daughter of playwright Romulus Linney, studied acting at Juilliard in New York City, got her start in theater and on Broadway and worked her way up the ranks in small roles on television and in independent films.

Most of her movie roles have been secondary — the sister in “Count on Me,” wife in “The Squid and the Whale” and girlfriend in “Man of the Year.”

But in “Savages,” written and directed by Tamara Jenkins (”Slums of Beverly Hills”), Wendy is the central character, whose changing life is more pronounced than the secondary roles played by Hoffman and Bosco.

Linney seems to be constantly working — three movies this year, four in 2006.

“I just really enjoy it,” she said with a laugh. “I find it constantly challenging. It’s taken me to parts of the world I never thought I’d see and I’ve worked with people whom I admire and learned from. It’s pretty damn good.”