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Publication Date



UM campus only

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Motion Pictures (Communication)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Christina Lane

Second Committee Member

William Rothman

Third Committee Member

Maha McCain


Laura Linney has an extensive education and experience in performance, which has influenced her to create a well-defined methodology when she approaches new roles. She uses a dialectical approach to performance. This approach has two parts as she outlined in a personal interview: phase one is her research, education, understanding of the script, and previous experiences working together to create a character, while phase two is her release of control over the character and the opportunity for the text (film or otherwise) and role to take on their own distinct personalities. This means that Linney eventually gives up agency over her characters in order for them to be effective and successful in the whole of a film. In effect, her characters are created by numerous influences within and outside her range of control. My intentions in this article are to prove that this dialectical methodology is prominent within all aspects of Laura Linney?s performances. In fact, I suggest that her utilization of this technique is what makes her a dynamic, effective, and unique actress. The dialectical nature of her performance techniques can be observed most effectively in specific breakthrough moments within her films. These moments exist most prominently in Linney?s films that are rooted in close character analysis like You Can Count On Me, The Savages, and the HBO mini-series John Adams. Close textual analyses of these scenes show a dramatic hiatus from the standard performance that she has used to help build a character. They show distinct differences between characters, which reinforces my point that each role is not only mandated by Linney?s creative power over her acting, but also a complete release of this control. They highlight how Linney allows herself to be directed and molded to develop deep, complex characters that work organically within the greater text of the film.


Transform; Transformation; Agency; Screen; Actress; Academy Award; Actor; Performer; Film; Acting; Persona; Method; Star; Dialectical; Laura; Linney; Performance; Feminist; Female