Watch: Allison Janney ‘putting sex back on the face of grandmothers’ on ‘Mom’

As press secretary C.J. Cregg on “The West Wing” Allison Janney won four Emmys and four Screen Actor Guild Awards. Looking back on the role, the actress tells Gold Derby in the webcam chat below, “to start out in first class in television… to hit it that big on a show like that, I was like ‘let’s do that again’ and then It’s been a while and I had a couple shows that didn’t go and I’ve been trying to find something that would fly.”

And fly she does on the CBS laffer “Mom” as Bonnie, the alcoholic, narcissistic and brash mother of Anna Farris’ character. Janney says, “she’s enormously fun to play and I think the writers, they see how much I love to do physical comedy. I credit my parents for making me go to ballet class when I was young to make sure I stood up straight, cause I’m so dam tall, and I’ve always had an awareness of my body and I like to dance and move … When Bonnie falls off the wagon and I got tackled like 25 times by Octavia Spencer; that was so much fun to do.”

That episode — “Zombies and Cobb Salad” — would make a great choice as an Emmy submission for Janney. It not only displays physical comedy but highlights the sitcom’s ability to address serious issues like alcoholism. As she explains: “We’re dealing with real things and I think the only way to get through the real tragedies and the things that life throws at us is with comedy. [In the episode] she kind of starts telling these sad, sad parts of her life but also interspersed with jokes about it … and it’s funny because it’s so real … When I’m upset about something I cry and then I start making jokes at my expense and I laugh; it just feels really real.”

She thinks Bonnies shows grandmothers in a new light. “I love the way she doesn’t want to get old and she’s fighting it; she wants to date younger men. I love that … she’s putting sex back on the face of grandmothers. And let’s just say it right here, she’s also possibly a great-grandmother … I’m not sure how I feel about being a great-grandmother, but I will do it and I will make her a sexy great-grandmother.”

Sex is certainly at the center of her other series, the Showtime drama “Masters of Sex.” She admints, “the fact that I’d have to have sex … I was a little nervous about doing those scenes, but I felt brave and confident and the story was so strong and powerful that it was easy to commit to it and forget about my own insecurities; about what I was showing or not showing.”

She says talking about this series “is all so weird, because I did it so long ago, I know they are both on the air right now. I’m currently doing ‘Mom’ … but I realise people are watching this and I shot it at the beginning of the year … It’s quite exciting to have them both on at the same time; I feel like I’m doing this party trick or something.” 

While she is eligible at the SAG Awards for both an individual bid and as part of the ensemble for “Mom,” she won’t be eligible to contend as part of the ensemble of “Masters of Sex” as she did not appear in enough episodes. 

After watching the video below, vote for Best TV Comedy Ensemble at the SAG Awards using our easy drag-and-drop menu.

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