Laura Linney on the Poignant Value of 'The Big C'

"There’s a sense of gratitude for everybody involved in the show," the Emmy-nominated actress tells THR.
Ken Regan/Showtime
"The Big C: Hereafter"

After four seasons, Laura Linney bids farewell to Cathy Jamison, her alter ego for 40 episodes on Showtime's The Big C, which over the course of its run put the spotlight on the courageous struggles of those who have faced cancer and the loved ones sharing in the journey.

During the series, Cathy has endured ups (remission) and downs (her tumors returned and were growing) in addition to meeting a slew of people who shared in her emotional and physical journey (Phyllis Somerville's Marlene and Hugh Dancy's Lee, among others). But it's been the interaction with fans, especially those from the cancer community who have left the biggest impression with the actress, who earned an Emmy for her portrayal of a woman with cancer.

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"When you’re working on a television show or any project where you’re working 18 hours a day, and you’re in the midst of production and all that, you can forget that it actually does have an impact on people and that there is a group of people to which this show has connected and is meaningful to them," Linney tells The Hollywood Reporter. "So it's always incredibly satisfying, and I'm so grateful to everyone who’s been so kind about it. People will stop me on the street or waiters or those who I encounter on a daily basis, and there's a sense of gratitude for everybody involved in the show, not just me, for the effort that was made and the attention that we're trying to draw to certain aspects about time and cancer and choices."

While executive produces Darlene Hunt and Jenny Bicks hoped that the series would generate conversation and provide a different way of looking at those diagnosed with cancer, the feedback Linney has heard first-hand from the community has been more than what she expected when The Big C first started.

"I was in London, and I had gotten into a cab, and the driver burst into tears," she recalls. "I was so confused because I didn't realize that the show was that popular there to begin with, and he was so very grateful for the show. His wife has cancer, and they watch the show together, and he was very sweet and grateful that the show allowed them a way to talk to each other. That was really nice. You don't realize when you make a TV show that that's what you hope for."

STORY: 'The Big C' Final Season: Does Cathy Have to Die?

Following four seasons, Broadway and a movie in three years, Linney says rest is on the agenda now before she likely returns to TV.

"The Big C was very rigorous," she notes. "I'm used to working hard and long hours, but it was three very intense years. We did four seasons in three years, and I did a Broadway show at the same time and made a movie, so it was a very busy time, so I'm looking forward to sticking my feet up for a bit. I'm sure I will return to TV at one point, but at the moment, I'm going to take some time off."

The series finale of The Big C: Hereafter airs Monday at 10 p.m. on Showtime. What has the series meant to you? Hit the comments below with your thoughts.

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