‘Mom’ role a joy for Allison Janney

  • By Lynn Elber Associated Press
  • Friday, November 22, 2013 4:07pm
  • LifeGo-See-Do

Allison Janney extends the maxim that the best actors can entertain simply by reading a phone book. She manages with commercials.

Her voice is warm and burnished with compassion on radio and TV voiceover spots for a health care provider, possibly the most melodic soft-sell ever.

Then there’s her real craft. Consider, for instance, her sharp, take-no-prisoners delivery as C.J. Gregg in “The West Wing,” and her manic chatter as a blowsy woman in the indie film “The Way Way Back.”

Or enjoy the sly purr she employs as Bonnie, a wayward but good-hearted parent and grandparent who’s trying to stay reformed in the new CBS sitcom “Mom” (9:30 p.m. Monday).

Anna Faris co-stars as her similarly imperfect daughter.

“It’s acting,” Janney said. “I feel like actors like to be challenged and play all different types of roles. For whatever reason, I’ve been given the opportunity to do so.”

Her talent has been on display on Broadway, where she earned Tony nominations for “9 to 5” and “A View from the Bridge,” and in movies including “American Beauty” and “Drop Dead Gorgeous.”

She earned four Emmy Awards for playing White House press secretary C.J. Cregg in “The West Wing.”

In person, the willowy Janney is polite and soft-spoken — the product, the Ohio native says, of her proper Midwestern upbringing.

Her 6-foot height, she says, earned her some brutal early career assessments from short-sighted agents: One said her roles would be limited to a handful of options, including aliens.

And Janney acknowledges that her 1999-2006 experience on the intricate, densely scripted political drama from Aaron Sorkin (“The Social Network,” HBO’s “The Newsroom”) was something she treasures but also acutely recalls as demanding.

A multicamera comedy like “Mom” offers a different experience, with shorter rehearsal days followed by a Friday taping.

“This is so civilized,” she said, both for her and for Faris, “who has a baby and can see her child grow up.”

But it’s laughs that Janney really is after.

“Comedy is what I love the best. I’m just drawn to it,” she said, with Carol Burnett and Mary Tyler Moore among her TV favorites as a youngster.

“Physical comedy, sweet poignant moments, heartbreaking scenes, classic straight man, you name it,” she said.

Watch it

“Mom” airs at 9:30 p.m. Mondays on CBS.

More in Life

From Jasper to Banff: A Canadian adventure in an RV

Jennifer Bardsley plans to take her family on two-week roadtrip through Canada in a tent trailer.

Skippers share sea stories at Marysville speaker series

The Bellingham couple will talk about charter cruises on the historic wooden vessel they rebuilt.

Anxiety, or chronic worry, is a growing problem

Paul Schoenfeld shares four approaches to help keep your anxiety from getting out of control.

Expo in Stanwood can help you get ready for the country

The Country Living Expo and Cattlemen’s Winterschool is set for Jan. 27 at the high school.

Find many of our region’s winter birds in the Skagit Valley

If you love birding, also check out these bird-related festivals, lectures and other events.

What’s new this year for travelers in England, Ireland

The nations are improving tourism infrastructures and adding exhibits to well-known sights.

Curries continues home-cooked Indian cuisine at new location

The restaurant, now located on Evergreen Way, also puts an Indian spin on Northwest cooking.

‘Three Billboards’ wins top prize at Screen Actors Guild Awards

Director Martin McDonagh’s dark morality tale beat out “Lady Bird,” “Mudbound,” “Get Out” and “The Big Sick.”

2018 Nissan Rogue crossover gets set for autonomous driving

New features including ProPILOT Assist are added to Nissan’s best-selling model, the compact Rogue.

Most Read