Magazine article The New Yorker

Student Teacher

Magazine article The New Yorker

Student Teacher

Article excerpt


--Emma Allen

Hamish Linklater, the actor, moved to Los Angeles in 2000, and, until recently, when he came back to New York he'd stay in the spare room of his mother's Upper West Side apartment with her two cats, whom he loathes. But, while preparing to appear as Benedick in the Shakespeare in the Park production of "Much Ado About Nothing" in June, he's upgraded to his girlfriend's place on the Lower East Side, which is cat-free. The other day, he was juggling errands: getting a drink with an old friend (their matching tattoos: a Picasso drawing of Don Quixote), and dropping in on his mother's third-year M.F.A. acting class. Kristin Linklater, a professor of Shakespearean acting at Columbia, was about to decamp to the Orkney Islands, and Hamish was being trotted out to serve as proof that Fortune's fickle wheel might be kind, post-showcase.

On the fifteenth floor of Riverside Church, Linklater--who is thirty-seven, lanky, toothy, with tousley curls--selected a seat next to his mother (white hair, polka-dotted socks), and slid into a slouch, arms crossed, black boots stuck straight in front of him. A tattooed "2" (Derek Jeter's number) peeked out from the sleeve of his T-shirt.

"Hello. This is what the future looks like," he said, ominously. The students laughed nervously.

A recent graduate started things off: "Did you plan that you were going to have this incredibly varied career?" A veteran of Shakespeare in the Park, Linklater has also had roles on "The Newsroom" and in the Miranda July movie "The Future," and will appear with Christopher Walken in the film "When I Live My Life Over Again," and in Woody Allen's upcoming "Magic in the Moonlight."

"Well, obviously, no," Linklater replied. "I was doing summer stock out in New Hampshire when I was in college, and a director introduced me to my first agent. I was at Amherst, and I called my mom and I was, like, 'Mom, do you think I should go back?' And Mom was, like, 'Save me the money, drop out now.' " More nervous laughter from the students, most of whom were paying upward of forty-five thousand dollars a year for their degrees.

Linklater decided to move to Manhattan with his girlfriend at the time. (Her name, Martha, was tattooed on his hip until Linklater had a daughter, seven years ago, and covered it up with a pink rose.) They lived on 207th Street. Linklater said, "And I went on every open call I could. And had, like, awful jobs"--filing death certificates, installing signs--"but the most important thing, starting out, is you want to throw yourself like al-dente noodles at every wall. …

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