As much as she enjoys acting, Beals also likes looking through the other side of the lens. A talented photographer, she often takes her Leica to work and recently published a book of candid, luminous shots of the cast of The L Word, with proceeds going to charities including the Matthew Shepard Foundation. “She has such an eye,” Foster says. “The first photographs I ever bought, when I turned 21, were Jennifer’s. She wanted to give them to me, but I wanted to be the first to pay for them.” On 9/11, Beals tells me, she took her camera downtown to make her own record of that fateful day.
The waiter removes our plates. Beals orders cheesecake and then cancels: “I don’t want to desert you, pardon the pun, but am I going to regret this in two hours? I’ll stay with my green tea.” It’s now after 12:30 am, and she’s ready to go home, aware that she’ll be awakened early by her daughter. I ask whether there’s anything else we should know about her: Does she tap-dance at 3 am, collect stamps, have unusual hobbies? Beals gives a surprisingly serious response, circling back to her ongoing search for meaning.
“The impulse to want to know who God is, is kind of still there,” she says. But she stresses that she has made some discoveries in her quest. “Whether it’s that moment in acting when everything is suspended and you’re not yourself, or breaking through the veil of a very long run or swim, or hearing my daughter laugh—they are all pathways to what I think God must be.” She pauses, then says with a smile, “That original journey has not ended.”
Meryl Gordon profiled Laura Linney for the September issue of More.
Originally published in the December 2010/January 2011 issue of More.