“It has been a long time,” James Widdoes shares about earning his first-ever Emmy nomination after over 40 years in the business. The director received the recognition for his work on the final season of the CBS comedy “Mom,” a series he has worked on since its debut back in 2013. “It’s obviously a tremendous honor and thrill to be nominated,” he continues, adding that “Mom” is one of his “proudest” accomplishments because “it tackled serious subjects while at the same time it could be screamingly funny.” Watch our exclusive video interview above.
Widdoes directed an impressive 123 episodes of “Mom” over its eight-season run. He submitted the episode “Scooby-Doo Checks and Salisbury Steak” for Emmy consideration, which finds Allison Janney’s Bonnie Plunkett helping her therapist (Rainn Wilson) through a challenging personal decision and an unexpected reunion between former couple Jill (Jaime Pressly) and Andy (Will Sasso) during a bank robbery. Widdoes discusses why he selected this episode, saying, “I particularly liked it because it was basically two two-handed stories put together.”
As one of the directors of the show across its entire run, Widdoes comments on how the sitcom evolved from a story about three generations of mothers to an ensemble show about a supportive group of women who meet through and bond over Alcoholics Anonymous. He credits co-creator Chuck Lorre for “his ability to see where the show wants to go and then the courage to take it there, whether it’s completely how it started or not.” “As the women started to show up, it very clearly wanted to be with them,” he continues, citing the incredible performances of not just Janney and original cast member Anna Faris, but also Mimi Kennedy, Pressly, Beth Hall, and Kristen Johnston.
Widdoes directed all but one of Janney’s six Emmy episode submissions, including the Season 1 episode “Estrogen and a Hearty Breakfast,” for which she won her first of two trophies for the role. He also directed the series finale, which Janney submitted for Emmy consideration this year. Of her performance, he shares, “Allison is such a skilled dramatic and comedic actress, one of the best if not the best I’ve ever worked with.” The trick to nailing Bonnie’s climactic final AA share, for him, was to “not rehearse it. All I did was leave it alone… It’s a remarkable performance. I hope she wins!”
Reflecting on the series as a whole, Widdoes cites two episodes he remembers most fondly. The first is season seven’s “Wile E. Coyote and a Possessed Doll,” which he did not direct, in which Bonnie sees a video of her husband Adam (William Fichtner) before a snowboarding accident left him unable to walk and wonders if he would still have married her had he not been injured. The second is “Sticky Hands and a Walk in the Wild Side” from the third season, during which the ladies head up to Canada to smuggle a barrel of maple syrup into the States, an episode he loves because “there were various emotional threads that were working through the whole thing.” Widdoes also applauds the work of his fellow nominees, including director James Burrows for “B Positive,” which he is also working on next season.
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