Allison Janney Dishes On The Way, Way Back And Drop Dead Gorgeous
I said as I came in, I do think that Drop Dead Gorgeous is one of the best comedies of the past twenty years. I think it holds up and it's really funny. But at the time, it wasn't a big thing.
I know. I don't know why it didn't get (big). It was like the Bridesmaids of its time.
It's so smart and funny. But are you aware how big it's gotten since then? Like people are obsessed with this.
No, I don't. I'm not aware of that. But I do know people do come up to me and say that—of all the things I've done—that's among the ones I get the most comments on, being in Drop Dead Gorgeous.
Can you tell me what it was like working on that movie?
I was in Minnesota for five or six weeks I think. And I just remember my first day of shooting. I had to work with Ellen Barkin and we had to be in the theater watching Kirstie Alley perform. And she was not there. She had already finished shooting, so I never even met her. And I had to be there with Ellen Barkin, who I met that day, and we had to be best friends in that audience watching. I was terrified.
That was the first day!?
That was my first day of shooting. It was crazy. I was so in awe of Ellen Barkin and be her best friend and have that. It's just so weird. Film acting is just so bizarre, it's like "There's your best friend. And go!" I'm like, "Oh, Okay." You know, you don't want to overplay it, but I was terrified.
And getting the accent down took a while. I would go to the Mall of America and just walk around listen to people, and record them. I just couldn't believe it. People wouldn't believe me if I had this accent! It took a long time but it was really fun to finally get. I still, I still go into that (affecting the Minnesota accent) all the time. Oh yeah.
My brother lived out there too, so it was great fun. I got to hang out with him all summer. I think we filmed in the summer. I don't remember. And Kirsten Dunst was such a sweetheart. She was such a little girl then! And Brittany Murphy, who I had just done View from a Bridge with on Broadway, and we did something before that. We did like three things in a row together, and then did Drop Dead Gorgeous right after that. I don't know. But she was lovely, I spent a lot of time with her. They were just really fun. And Mo Gaffney!..And Nora Dunn. Having drinks with them after shooting. It was extraordinary, really fun.
It's amazing how many people after that blew up. Amy Adams is in that movie.
Amy Adams is in that movie! I forgot! Amy had a smaller role on West Wing. I did some location shoot with her in Pittsburgh before she (broke through). It's just amazing.
Where do you think Loretta would be today?
(Sliding in the accent for a moment) Oh my god. Loretta is back in a trailer. She is exactly where she was there. And maybe she's getting laid right now. She's getting some right now. (Laughs)
What's so extraordinary about your work is that it seems like you refuse to be put in a casting niche. Like Loretta and Betty could not be more different from C.J. Cregg, who is composed and professional even in the most intense moments. How have you defied being typecast?
I don't know. I'm really happy about it though, I'll tell ya. I don't know. Why is that?…I think because I did it once and people saw. And it was like, "Oh, she did that and that!" Some people don't get that (opportunity). Some people get a show that runs for seven years, and then people didn't see that they did anything before. And I had the advantage of Drop Dead Gorgeous, so I had 'she did that and that.' I had proof already in the can! She can do that. And I'm so grateful that I can get to do all these things.
There's been a rise in talk of how Hollywood seems to sideline actresses once they age out of ingénue status. Would you care to you speak to that?
I never went through any ingénue status. I was playing 40-year-olds when I was 15. I never got cast in that, in the ingénue roles. So I don't think that applies to me. I don't like that when that this happens to women. I think it still does. It's unfortunate. I think movies like—not that the Bridesmaids girls were a certain age, they are still young—we just have to have more. I mean there probably are scripts out there that exist for women over a certain age but studios won't do them. I don't know what the answer is. More women need to be positions where they can green light scripts that are written for older women. I'd love to star in a movie, where I was number one on the call sheet and have a story would be interesting and commercial, and people would want to go see it.
Well, you do have Tammy coming up where you got to work with Melissa McCarthy.
I do! And Susan Sarandon plays my mom in that, and I play Melissa's mom. We were all laughing about age inappropriateness of all of us...
What can you tell us about Tammy?
Melissa wrote it (with Ben Falcone)…and her husband Ben's directing it. And it's a road trip movie basically. She's this girl who is just running away, doesn't seem to be able to live her life. She keeps getting in her own way and getting in trouble. She keeps running away and coming back. And she hates her grandmother and they end up—this is not a very good description of the movie because it's very funny—but they both end up wanting to run away from their lives, going on a road trip together. And they end up discovering an appreciation for each other, and learning to love each other. That's a terrible description of the movie. It's really, really funny!
It's you and Melissa McCarthy. I'm sold.
I'm not in it a lot. I'm in the beginning of it and they go off on the road trip. It's a movie about those two. But I wanted to be in it because I just love Melissa McCarthy and Ben. They are so funny. They are my idols from the Groundlings. Watching her perform, she had all these characters...She's fearless. She really is.
The Way, Way Back is in theaters now.
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