Laura Linney
When I first pick up a book, I'm just reading for the joy of it. But with a really good writer, it's exciting to go back and tear things apart. You look at the architecture of the story. You ask: "What does every character say about the other characters?" You look for clues: "Why did they behave this way? Why did they do that?"

Take The City of Your Final Destination , my new favorite book. I'm about to make a movie of it, so right now I'm studying the story in a very fine-tooth-comb sort of way. It's about a writer named Jules Gund, who wrote one spectacular novel and then died, and a PhD candidate who wants to publish a biography on him. Gund lived in Uruguay, on an estate where his widow, mistress and gay brother still reside. The student has to convince them to give him permission before he can publish his work. The novel deals with issues of family, betrayal, and disappointment; the more I go through it, the more I love it. It's a fantastic process, hunting for clue after clue after clue. You develop a whole other appreciation for the story. You can start to smell it. You can start to taste it.

Linney plays the diabolical Mrs. X in The Nanny Diaries.

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