“I just started back yesterday. First day back at school, as I call it. I just feel so happy to have this kind of job,” admits Allison Janney as we chat via webcam (watch above) about her hit CBS comedy “Mom.” As she explains, “it’s the most relaxed set and atmosphere. From table read to tape night I love it all. Every day is different. It’s a godsend as an actor to have a steady job like this. So much fun.”
She has won Comedy Supporting Actress for the past two years for “Mom” and defends her title this year. In 2014, she also claimed Drama Guest Actress for “Masters of Sex” (and contends again in that race). And she has four Emmys for her acclaimed run on “The West Wing.” Those seven Emmys leave her just one shy of Cloris Leachman’s record for the primetime prizes; Leachman also has one Daytime Emmy on her crowded mantle. Were she to win both her bids this year, she would have nine in all.
Janney declares, “I love Cloris Leachman so much. It would be so amazing to get to act with her.” And she dishes another Emmy darling, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who brought her total haul to six for acting with a fourth win last year for “Veep.” Janney jokes, “she’s gunning for me. I know her. She deserves every one. She’s so damn funny.”
On “Mom” she plays Bonnie, a recovering alcoholic trying to navigate a healthy relationship with her daughter (Anna Faris). Her Emmy episode submission is the season opener (‘Terrorists and Gingerbread’), in which Bonnie faces off against her mother (played by Oscar, Tony and Emmy champ Ellen Burstyn).
The actress readily admits, “we dealt with a lot of hard stuff this season. That’s where the writers think this show’s pocket is. We deal with real life issues. There are moments of heaviness, but they are also followed by laughter.” As she explains, “that episode is perfect at showing both those sides. Bonnie is reunited with her birth mother and deals with abandonment issues, but there are incredibly funny moments mined out of that. I love walking that line as an actor finding the comedy within the serious.”
For this theater vet, one of the most enjoyable aspects of the job is “filming in front of a live audience. The writers are behind the monitors and do floor pitches. We’ll get it one way and they’ll want us to say something else. We’re constantly getting new lines. It’s like a game. An acting game. It’s really exhilarating and a lot of fun. And crazy sometimes.”
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