John Benjamin Hickey Talks “The Normal Heart” & The End Of “The Big C: hereafter”

The Tony-winner talks The Big C: hereafter and The Normal Heart.


John Benjamin Hickey can wow us in performances on stage, screen and television…or even when he’s getting an actual hickey from The Big C: hereafter co-star and friend Laura Linney, as he did on camera last week on Bravo’s Watch What Happens Live.

However, the out performer is also passionate about what his craft and had much to say about the final episodes of The Big C: hereafter miniseries (which kicks off tonight on Showtime) and his hope to be a part of The Normal Heart film for HBO.

TheBacklot: I’m so glad I had tissues nearby watching The Big C: hereafter miniseries because I had to pause more than once and have a good little cry.

John Benjamin Hickey: I know, I’m so proud of this season and I just feel like so much has come full circle and all of the wonderful threads that went outside of the thread line. The show went in so many wonderful crazy directions and how it all kind of lasers back into one this season and that family becoming a stronger better family and really showing up for each other in their own idiosyncratic ways, I just loved getting to do it and doing a mini series. I really feel like in some way that show benefitted from having an hour form as opposed to a half hour.


TBL: Between The Big C: hereafter and The Normal Heart on Broadway, death is a big thing that you’ve worked with a lot. Has it kind of changed your perception of it at all?

JBH: I just did a pilot for the CW, which I’ll know within the next week or two whether it’s going to be picked up called Blink. Yeah, a father in a coma and I have all of these scenes where I’m in a coma but there’s this rich fantasy life that he has, which is extraordinary, really risky. So there’s another show that flirts with mortality and your question is, has it changed my perspective? Well, yeah, I’m no longer afraid of death or things about death.

I feel like strangely enough, especially when I was doing The Normal Heart and The Big C at the same time, a show about terminal cancer and a show about the beginning of the AIDS epidemic, first of all, they’re just shows. They’re not real life. They’re just shows so I certainly have my perspective in check but I’ve never felt more alive as an artist, as a human being, I’ve never felt more kind of in love with life. I was doing these things and I do think as a result of how deeply, scary and sad and harrowing that subject matter was, that I was so weirdly happy…you vibrate a little bit more. I certainly felt that way while doing it.

TBL: How was it different shooting these last four episodes knowing that Cathy’s life could be coming to an end but that the show definitely was?

JBH: Knowing that it was going to really focus on Cathy and her illness and [the rest of the characters] all kind of finally realizing that the thing was real…and I’m not saying whether or not it gets her or not…but I think this is the season when everybody begins to accept the fact that Cathy is really sick and as a result it made us as a family of actors and, as that fictional family, come together more than we ever had before. So it was a really good experience to kind of treasure.

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