Allison Janney Q&A: ‘Mom’
“I’m really going to need a vacation after this,” declares Allison Janney about her whirlwind year including a full season of “Mom,” starring on Broadway in “Six Degrees of Separation,” and even making a TV appearance recently with Samantha Bee. In our recent webchat (watch the exclusive video above), she adds, “I’m going to unplug everything and just stare at a wall. It’s been extraordinary! I didn’t think everything I said ‘yes’ to would happen at the same time. Sometimes you have a project you’ve been wanting to do for years, and all of a sudden the financing falls into place.”
Janney’s full-time job on the CBS situation comedy “Mom” starring Anna Faris has already brought her two Emmy Awards (2014, 2015) plus a nomination last year as a supporting actress. For this summer’s Emmy ballot, she has made the decision to switch over to compete as a lead actress. Of that change, she says, “Anna was the first person to suggest it to me a couple of years ago. We talked about it, and as the show has progressed Anna and I have definitely been the focus of the show. It’s been about the two of us and our journey along with these other wonderful women.”
This strategy paid off before for Janney. She prevailed as Best Drama Supporting Actress twice for “The West Wing” (2000, 2001) and then triumphed as Best Drama Actress twice more (2002, 2004) for her role as White House press secretary C.J. Cregg. She also won as Best Drama Guest Actress in 2014 for “Masters of Sex,” giving her a total of seven trophies in her career. That ties her in second place for performance Emmys with Edward Asner, Julia Louis-Dreyfus (who is now up against her for “Veep” with a winning streak of five), and the late Mary Tyler Moore. They are all one behind Cloris Leachman, who has eight prime-time Emmy wins in acting categories.
If nominated this summer, Janney says she would most likely submit the Season 4 episode “Tush Push and Some Radishes.” In that installment her character Bonnie finds out that the mother who abandoned her (played the previous season by Ellen Burstyn) has died. The writers offered her a wide range of comedic and emotional scenes to play. In our interview, we discuss that episode as well as the television legacy left by Moore, working with Chris Pratt and Bradley Whitford as guest stars this season, and what advice her character of C.J. would give to current White House press secretary Sean Spicer.