Laura Linney and Living With 'The Big C' - TCA Report
by Joel Keller, posted Jul 29th 2010 7:42PM
Oh, Laura Linney... how I admire your career choices. It doesn't seem to matter if whatever project she chooses to put herself in is a hit or not; they all seem to have that high-quality feel. Maybe she just picks projects with good writing and directing. But a lot of that likely has to do with Linney's glowing presence. She just brings an aura of calm assuredness to whatever role she plays.
In her new series 'The Big C,' which premieres on Showtime on August 16 at 10:30PM ET, Linney plays Cathy Jamison, an uptight teacher who finds out she has stage 4 melanoma and decides to act out in any number of ways, including setting her couch on fire.
The show is about exploring how people live their lives, whether they know they're dying or not. "What hit me the most was the theme of time and what do you do with time, what are the choices that we make, how we spend our time, the fact that we all have a limited amount and that it's a privilege to grow old," she told the gathered reporters this morning.
Linney calls Cathy a woman who's been functioning well, but not really living. "I have a feeling she's a woman who doesn't really know who she is, and she has the opportunity to find out, and she's going to take it.," she said.
Executive producer Jenny Bicks, who is a cancer survivor, says that each season of the series will represent a calendar season of Cathy's life, starting in the summer. So, if the show were to go six seasons, only 18 months of Cathy's life would have passed. Melanoma has an unpredictable mortality timeframe, which allows Cathy to make her exploration over a extended period of time. But Bicks wants to make sure the show is "honest" about how this will end up.
"So we don't think in terms of when are we or if - are we going to kill (Cathy) because it's much more about the exploration of what she's going to be doing while she's alive. It honestly really is that. But if it comes time that she goes, she goes," she said.
-- Oliver Platt plays Cathy's husband Paul, who's immature and has to grow up fast to deal with this diagnosis. "The show asks this incredibly beautiful question for me, which is why do we have to start - why do we start to live beautifully when we get a death sentence?" he said. "I mean, we're all dying anyway, but why do we have to have this dramatic thing come along and say, "You've only got a few months" to start to tell the people we love that we love them or not want to mess around doing superficial things anymore?"
-- Gabourey Sidibe plays Andrea, a student of Cathy's. Given her whirlwind year, she actually has experience with having her life go in an unexpected direction. "Life isn't very normal even though I'm still very much a normal girl. Like, I ride the subway. I ride the bus and all of that. I'm very normal. But it's the people around me that, like, are now - like, I love when I go to a restaurant, and I walk past, and everyone is like (waves hands in the air and yells excitedly). That's always really funny. It's strange. I mean, it just goes to show that whatever plan you have for your life, you are wrong a lot of times."
-- Cynthia Nixon will guest as Rebecca, a friend of Cathy's from college, who, according to Bicks, is "this wild, loose girl who never grew up, who took Cathy and took her out of her shell, and she will do that again for her. So it's a lot of fun to see Cynthia playing kind of the wild, sexy, free, a little off-the-rails character."
-- What has Linney learned from this experience? "I'm a little calmer than I normally am, a little more relaxed, " she told me in the scrum. "I'm in sort of a state of wonder all the time. It's really nice."