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Linney Goes Down To The 'River'

Oscar-nominated actress Laura Linney plays opposite Sean Penn as his wife in "Mystic River," the new movie directed by Clint Eastwood. She spoke to Early Show co-anchor Hannah Storm about working on the film, which is getting the highest marks from critics.

"We're all very, very proud of this movie for a lot of reasons," Linney said. "Not only is it just a very, very good film, but to be a part of…one of the best movies that Clint Eastwood has ever made is just a thrill for all of us, and we are very proud of this one."

She emphasized that it was not only working with such stars as Penn, Kevin Bacon, Tim Robbins, Laurence Fishburne and Marcia Gay Harden that made it such a rewarding experience; it was the work done by every actor in the film.

"There's not a false note in the whole film," explains Linney, "and it's really just…the work that Clint did on this, in putting it together. (It) is really remarkable, I think."

The film deals with one of Eastwood's favorite themes: justice outside of the law. Penn's character is bent on vigilante justice for the murder of his daughter, and Linney, as his wife, stands by her man at a whole new level.

"She's a woman who is very clear about what she believes in," the actress explained. "Things are very black and white for her, and she's a very strong, strong person. All of the characters in this movie are very multilayered and very interesting, and they surprise you at every turn."

Linney, 39, has nothing but the highest praise for Penn.

"My respect for Sean Penn was enormous before starting making this movie," she told The Early Show. "I cannot tell you how remarkable he is, and it was heaven working with him. Just heaven."

She had worked with Eastwood before; he had hand-picked her to co-star with him in the movie "Absolute Power" (1997). What is he like as a director?

"He's fabulous. Creates the best working environment of any director I've worked with… There is nothing between you and the work. Nothing. That's not just for the actors; that's also for the crew. There's nothing unnecessary going on. It's very relaxed. It's not overly important, but we're all very focused…and you feel very much a part of the movie. Everybody feels that they're really contributing… You'll hear this over and over again from anyone who has ever worked with him, just how magic it is."

As a matter of fact, Linney has said that she would read the phone book for Eastwood. But that probably won't be necessary. She was nominated for an Oscar and a Golden Globe in 2001 for her performance in "You Can Count On Me," for which she did win the New York Film Critics Award and the National Society of Film Critics Association Award.

In 2002, she won an Emmy for her lead performance in the TV movie "Wild Iris."