WGN America will debut its second original scripted series, “Manhattan,” on July 27. In preparation for the 1940s period drama, which surrounds the scientists tasked with developing the atomic bomb in New Mexico — and their in-the-dark families — Zap2it caught up with the cast for a Q&A about their new show. Up first is John Benjamin Hickey, who plays brilliant scientist Frank Winter.
Zap: Which is more challenging: ’40s fashion or nuclear physics?
Hickey: Um, Physics. I love those clothes from that period. Just putting the hat on makes me feel like Indiana Jones. I said makes me feel, not makes me look.
What did you actually know about The Manhattan Project before you auditioned for the role?
I knew the basics. I knew they built the bomb, and that a small group of scientists changed the world. What I didn’t realize is how good the government was at keeping it all top secret. It was a secret suburb, a secret society, in the middle of our country. Hard to believe something like that could happen now.
If you could hang out with a real Manhattan Project scientist, who would you pick?
Robert Serber. Watch the extraordinary and incredibly entertaining documentary “The Day After Trinity.” Serber was a badass.
Marry/kiss/kick to the curb: Einstein, Oppenheimer, Fermi.
Wow. Okay, marry Oppenheimer, kiss Einstein (the mustache alone), and….wait, how
could you kick any of those guys to the curb? Imagine having dinner with all three, and how unbelievably stupid you would feel. What an honor that would be!
What are your favorite and least favorite things about working on a period piece?
As Indiana Jones would say, see answer No. 1. I love wearing that hat so much, anything I don’t like just recedes, like my hairline.
What’s one thing about this time in history — or The Manhattan Project, specifically — that you didn’t know before you started working on the show?
As Einstein would say, see answer No. 2.
“Manhattan” premieres Sunday, July 27 at 9 p.m. ET on WGN America.