Mirren to play Tolstoy's wife in 'Last Station'

LET’S TAKE Laura Linney — again. Right now very hot, reputation-wise, from an Oscar nomination for a movie almost nobody bothered to see — “The Savages.” And also very current and important as Abigail, the wife of our second president, in the HBO miniseries “John Adams,” starting March 16. Laura looked great at the Academy Awards as the voters once again swept past her to a newcomer Marion Cottilard. (Ms. Linney has now been nominated three times — her first, for “You Can Count on Me” and her second, for “Kinsey.”) She’ll soon wind up filming “The Other Man” in London for director-screenwriter Richard Eyre. Her co-stars give this project some heft and they are — Antonio Banderas and Liam Neeson. But this is a woman who doesn’t seem to need too much help. She has been described as “a hard-working, brilliant acting machine.” These days she’d like to calm down, stop rushing around, think about getting married. But no. She will return to New York in a few days to begin rehearsals for the theater role many believe she was born to play.

Laura will appear as La Marquise de Merteuil to Ben Daniels character, Le Vicomte de Valmont, in the revival of Christopher Hamptons’ “Les Liaisons Dangereuses.” We’ll get the pre-Revolutionary French aristocracy in all its cynicism and decadence. The Roundabout opens this on May 1, and I can hardly wait. Maybe after that Oscar will stop making Laura Linney wait.

THAT GREAT QUEEN (“Elizabeth II” and “The Queen”) turned Madam (“Love Ranch”) — and I do mean Dame Helen Mirren — will be peeling off out of the U.S. for Germany on April 2. She is starting a movie about Russia’s great writer Tolstoy and his wife. The movie won’t be titled “War and Peace” though there was quite a bit of both in the Tolstoy marriage. The film is to be called “Last Station” and I would suppose deals with the writer running away from home in his dotage because his wife was denying him sexual favors. He died in a railway station.

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more