Interview with Laura Linney who stars as Cathy on The Big C...
What is THE BIG C about?
LL: THE BIG C is a series about a woman named 'Cathy Jamison' who finds out that she has Stage Four melanoma and has to make some decisions about how to live the rest of her life with the time that she has left. She decides not to tell anybody at first, which is an interesting choice, and she begins to re-evaluate her relationships and her life. Hopefully, the journey will be surprising and unconventional. And, in some ways, a real adventure…
Can you talk about Cathy's character and the transformation she undergoes?
LL: Her diagnosis changes her a lot, as it does many people who go through this sort of thing. Whenever there is news of that kind, it realigns your thoughts in a way that you didn't think that you had investigated really before. She has sort of let her life go, and she's been living her life very much for other people – and she's become more of a function really than a human being. When you realize that you only have a limited amount of time, you re-evaluate all the decisions that you have been making and all the relationships that you have been having. And she starts to live life in a very different way. And, I think she is someone who really doesn't know who she is at the beginning of the series. She's a wife, mother and teacher, but she doesn't really know who she is and what her authentic core is. So, a lot of the series is going to be about her trying to figure that out with the time that she has left and learning how she wants to spend her remaining time.
How does her relationship with her husband change?
LL: In the beginning of the series, we learn that her husband Paul (OLIVER PLATT) is no longer living in the house. Paul has no idea that she has cancer and she has just said she can't do it – their marriage – anymore, but it's unclear as to what the real motivation is behind that emotion. There are issues about her living with a man who is maybe not the most mature, with a lot of time being sucked up taking care of him. But at the same time, I think she wants to spare him the trauma of telling him she has a terminal illness. So, we'll discover as the show progresses what those motivations are all really about.
What about her relationship with her son? How does that change?
LL: Well, her son is a brat. She has, basically, in some ways not been a good parent. You can see it in how he behaves around her. So she is going to reclaim her position in his life and step up to the plate as far as being a mother is concerned and parent him in the way that he needs to be parented.
How does the concept of time play into the theme of the show?
LL: Well for me, the show is all about time and what time we have and how we choose to use it. And equally important to me, is looking at the privilege of aging. I hear so many people complaining about getting old; being shamed about the age on their face, not wanting to live a period of time in their life, wanting to move back in time. And, you know, aging is a tremendous privilege. I hope the show really explores that message because we're very lucky to move into the different phases of our life.
Would you say it's about living life to the fullest?
LL: I don't know if it's about that. I think it's about living your life. I think it's about someone living their life the way they need to live it, the way that is the most fulfilling and satisfying and so that one can grow. You could live a life and be stagnant. You could live a life as a function or you could live a life and be a person who grows and changes and who is influenced and influences others. So, I think it's a lot about the choices that people make with the life that they have.
How would you talk about the comedy in THE BIG C?
LL: People come up to me and say, "how are you going to do a comedy about cancer?!" And it's not really a comedy about cancer. It's a comedy about a woman who has cancer and there's a big difference. When anyone is dealing with change or a huge challenge, life has a way of not allowing you to be too serious about it.
How do you think viewers will relate to the show? What do you think they will get from THE BIG C?
LL: I certainly hope it makes people take a beat and look around at the friends and family that they have, where they live and their jobs. I hope it gets them to re-examine a bit how and what they do with their time and prioritize a little bit about what kind of lifestyle to have, whatever that may be. There's a lot of wasting valuable time. I know that on my deathbed, I'm going to want a certain hour back…a year back...I'm going to want time back. It's a very short life, but it's a very long life. It's human nature to be a little cavalier about time, but it's truly valuable.