It’s hard to look at Allison Janney and not be transported to a White House press room circa 1999. After all, the multi-talented actress (TV? Check. Movies? Check. Broadway? Check.) won four Emmys and two Screen Actors Guild awards for her role as presidential press secretary C.J. Cregg on "The West Wing."
After that media darling of a presidency came to a close in 2006, Janney’s film career ("Juno," "The Help" and, most recently, "The Way, Way Back") continued to thrive. She was even nominated for a 2009 Tony award as efficient office manager Violet in the musical version of 1980 film "9 to 5."
Now the 53-year-old actress has taken on a new project — her first sitcom, "Mom," from Chuck Lorre, premiering on CBS Sept. 23. And while in real life, she’s single and child-free, on the show she plays a lusty former drug addict who uses passive-aggression to tell her now-sober daughter (Anna Faris) how to raise her own kids.
“It’s what I’ve been waiting for, my whole career,” Janney revealed about her casting in an on-set interview. “I think it’s the perfect blend of all the things I love about acting.”
Besides the live audience and the “on the fly” nature of television due to inevitable writers’ changes, what Janney also likes about her new show is the hours.
“The schedule allows you to have a life outside,” she says, admitting that her previous TV series didn’t exactly boast a parent-friendly schedule.
“I think probably one of the reasons I’m not a mother is from a show called 'The West Wing.' That was 18-hour days, and I did not have a life outside of that,” she says.
And while the actress is a self-described people-pleaser who values things like kindness and generosity, she doesn’t shy away from playing a man-hungry, former cocaine abuser on TV.
“I’m not afraid of (my character) Bonnie,” she says. “I love how far she goes. I wish I were more like her in my life in terms of men in particular. She is fearless with men and thinks she’s the most attractive, desirable woman on the planet. That would be fun to feel that for a week.”
She might not be afraid of Bonnie, but Janney does admit to having nerves before a live audience and wanting to make sure Lorre and "Mom" co-creator Gemma Baker like her performances (there’s that people-pleasing gene).
“I like to be an actor’s actor, someone that people want to work with,” she says. “I mean, life’s too short.”