John Benjamin Hickey Q&A: ‘Manhattan’
"There’s a lot of balls in the air but I think at the end of the day Frank kind of follows his heart," says actor John Benjamin Hickey about his acclaimed WGN drama “Manhattan." As Dr. Frank Winters, a man having to juggle his family, friendships, work and ego in an isolated New Mexico military town, he adds, "For a guy who’s so trapped in his head, that’s an interesting duality, to play the things he’s most emotionally connected to."
The town of Los Alamos has been recreated on a 12-acre property, and in a recent chat with Gold Derby, he compares the experience to Disneyland: "For an actor, it's like you've been totally immersed. When you put your costume on at base camp, and you get on a van, and you're taken into that 10-acre epicentre, it’s like you've been dropped in Jurassic Park."
Hickey reveals that the immersion into that world creates the same feelings of isolation that would happen if living in a military town. He laughingly says, "I’ve been in New Mexico for a month, and I don’t have anyone to talk to! You can imagine what it must have been like for those people, the most brilliant minds in the scientific world. All of these people and their families are uprooted from their probably pretty sophisticated lives in academia… and are brought to this tiny little barb wire-fenced makeshift government sanctioned suburb… and to sacrifice everything for what they thought was the greater good of building the bomb."
He adds, while "it’s not the same degree of sacrifice… you’re in the middle of a very remote place, and that’s what makes it romantic and lonely and challenging. As an actor it’s amazing because all you really have to focus on is your work."
The freshman show "Manhattan" will make its first campaign for the Emmy Awards this summer with past Tony Award winner Hickey in the Best Drama Actor race. Other co-stars on the ballot include Rachel Brosnahan, Olivia Williams, Ashley Zuckerman, Daniel Stern, and Richard Schiff. He says, "It’s incredible to even be considered in the running for Emmys. Television is crazy now… this new Golden age of television we’re in, there’s just so much great shit to see and I’m happy to be a part of that."