Tag Archives: Laura Linney

Sarandon Aimed to Avoid Health Guru Caricature on ‘Big C’


Susan Sarandon has been going from project to project to project over the last year or so, and says she was on the verge of taking a little work break when “The Big C” came her way. “I wasn’t quite sure I wanted to do it until I read it, and knew what was going to happen at the end. That convinced me,” she tells us.

Sundays on the Showtime dark comedy, Sarandon’s self-help guru – Joy, the self-named and titled Joyologist — is a cancer survivor who leads others in finding their paths to true happiness via lectures, retreats, the gamut. Laura Linney’s and Oliver Platt’s characters fall under her charismatic spell.

“The only thing I was concerned about was making sure she was treated sincerely, you know?” notes the revered Oscar-winning actress. “I was trying to not be a caricature of those people that are in that business. And I think she really believes it, and you know, I felt she should actually help people even though other things happen later that maybe make you think of her in a different way. At least you start off, I think, believing she’s really sincere and has turned her cancer experience into something that is really positive, and that’s great.”

Speaking of positive, that’s the word she uses frequently to describe Linney – “just relentlessly positive and a total pro, of course, with a very welcome sense of humor.  Laura’s very special, she has a light and she’s trying to do something unique and funny and at the same time, a little dark.” Working on the show, she notes, “is a good excuse for us to stay in touch. You know, we kept running into each other. I’ve known her for years. But now I feel like I’m part of the family, and you take advantage of that as much as possible.”

Sarandon’s current string of films ranges from “Jeff, Who Lives at Home,” now in release, to the upcoming “Arbitrage” with Richard Gere and Tim Roth, “The Company You Keep” with Robert Redford and Julie Christie, “Robot and Frank” with Frank Langella and Liv Tyler, and the sci-fi flick “Cloud Atlas,” in which she cross-dresses to play a man. However, the honesty-loving star is quick to point out that they are not large roles.

“I keep saying that they’re all — you need to put them all together and maybe you have two real films to my credit,” Sarandon says. “But I don’t mind going in almost like a temp and dealing with a certain problem that needs to be solved. And if the characters are fun and the company is inspiring, and they’re trying to do something different, I’m very happy to jump in for the ride.”

‘The Big C’ Phone Sex ‘Outrageous, Not Salacious’ Says John Benjamin Hickey

John Benjamin Hickey and Laura Linney Showtime photo

Showtime’s “The Big C” is already half-way through shooting of its third season, reports John Benjamin Hickey — with a roster of guest stars including Victor Garber, Tammy Blanchard, Allison Janney, Broadway star Brian d’Arcy James of “Smash,” and Susan Sarandon as the self help guru “joyologist” with whom Laura Linney’s and Oliver Platt’s characters become involved.

“Laura and I turned to each other today and said, ‘We should buy the casting director a new car.’ We have such extraordinary people,” reports the Tony-winning actor, who plays Linney’s bipolar, homeless brother Sean. He credits writer-producers Jenny Bicks and Darlene Hunt for the show’s sharp writing “and real level of class. But at the end of the day, it’s Laura that attracts the A+ talent. She’s as good as it gets.”

Hickey has what may be his wildest season yet, which is saying a lot considering what viewers have seen so far involving the anti-establishment, environmentalist Sean, who has been known to eat out of garbage cans and who lacks social filters, yet sometimes makes profound sense. This season — debuting April 8 — Sean gets a land line and winds up intercepting a fledgling gay phone sex business, and soon has himself a new occupation.

“He’s completely straight, but he has no homophobia or hangups and no problems with doing the virtual sex. It’s really, really funny,” Hickey claims. “We’ve created a comic universe for it to exist in, where it’s outrageous without ever being salacious. There’s a whole new level of ‘Sean-ness’ about it.”

Hickey also has a recurring role on “The Good Wife,” and may well turn up on “Modern Family” one of these days.   His long-time partner, Jeffrey Richman, is among the Emmy-winning writers on that series.

“I want to do the show. They asked me to do a couple of things a while back, but the timing wasn’t right and I couldn’t make it work. There’s something overwhelming about it because I’m such an unbelievable fan of that show. Every single cast member is extraordinary. I would be so thrilled, I would have to do a lot of yoga to calm my nerves.”

New Major Name to Join ‘The Big C’ in Season of Bargaining

Laura Linney Showtime photo by Ken Regan

Sounds like Laura Linney’s “The Big C” will have another attention-getting attribute in its new season that launches April 8.  According to Executive Producer Jenny Bicks, the “Big C” team is awaiting word any minute from a major name likely to come aboard the Showtime dramedy in which Linney plays a woman dealing with cancer.  They go back into production this week.

This year, Linney’s Cathy Jamison will be at the Bargaining stage of response to her illness.  “It’s going to be all about Cathy looking for joy and really kind of embracing life.  She’s been through a lot last season with Paul,” says Bicks, referring to Linney’s series husband Oliver Platt, last seen being worked on by EMTs and flatlining after ingesting cocaine.  (Series creator Darlene Hunt refused to confirm that the character died, telling The Hollywood Reporter that Paul will be back, some way, in Season 3.)

Jenny Bicks

“She’s going to get a better prognosis, so she’s going to feel for the first time like, ‘Maybe I have more time, and what the hell now am I going to do with the rest of my life?’ — which becomes a whole separate issue,” says Bicks.  “So, she’s really going to go after what makes her happy and she’s going to come in contact with a joyologist, which is a real term, who is going to kind of be her mentor.”

That’s the role in which they’re expecting their exciting name star.  Cathy will “get together with this woman and go on a journey and do some crazy things outside her box,” according to Bicks.

Will this season finally put the critically-hailed, top-talent-filled series over the top in terms of popularity and recognition?  “I think we’d all like to think that, especially because of where we’re going to be airing this year,” says Bicks, referring to their first springtime seasonal launch.  “We’re going to get a lot of viewers who’ve never even seen the show on televsion.  A lot of people catch up on DVDs.”

Then there’s the fact that Laura Linney, Emmy nominated for her work on the show last year, was up for Golden Globe honors this month as well.  And costar John Benjamin Hickey, who won a Tony for The Normal Heart last year, is also being increasingly recognized for his portrayal of Linney’s bipolar brother, Sean.  Says Bicks, “I feel that people are starting to take in this show that we love and it can only be bigger because of that.”

John Benjamin Hickey Showtime photo

AND:  Speaking of Hickey and his Sean character, Bicks reveals that this year, he’s going to have “a gay phone sex line.  What?!  What?!  How does that happen?”  She laughs.  “He inherits a phone number from somebody whose phone has been cut off and he ends up with this enterprise, and it turns out that he actually has quite a knack for phone sex, so he’s going to kind of go back on the grid and make some good money, and because of that have some very interesting relationships in his life.  He’s going to have a lot of fun.”