It will no doubt come as a relief to Allison Janney’s many, many fans across the world that, in real life, she is every bit as intelligent, open, friendly, witty and thoughtful as her ‘West Wing’ alter ego CJ Cregg.
So much so that, as a dedicated Wingnut myself, when I press her for her own favourite scene from the much-missed US series set around the Oval Office, she doesn’t settle for a pat answer, but closes her eyes and really, really thinks about it.
“The problem is,” she finally concedes, "that there were so, so many, it’s really hard to choose.
“Any time I got to be silly was great, the episode with the turkeys, or when we were playing practical jokes on each other. Plus any time we were all together.
“The more people there were in the room, the more chance for hilarity, because someone would break and start laughing and then we’d all start laughing, so much that we couldn’t stop laughing to say the lines…”
“Martin (Sheen) would make us laugh so much, we’d have to hold our character names up in front of us because he could never remember.” She smiles. “It was just a great group of people.”
The show, including Allison’s triumphant, multiple Emmy Award-winning performance, came to an end in 2006, when she decided she would use her enhanced professional capital to stretch her career into unknown fields, and ended up “in a musical on Braodway. And I’m not even a singer!”
This year, however, finds her back on TV, sharing great screen chemistry with co-star Anna Faris in ‘Mom’, ANOTHER hit sitcom from uber-creator Chuck Lorre, this one based around a mother-daughter pair of alcoholics, and for which Allison has already bagged herself yet another Emmy Award.
“You have to service the half hour rhythm of comedy, but it has an underbelly too,” she explains enthusiastically.
“These two women are up against huge things – recovering alcoholics – and it’s incredibly difficult.
“I’m not one myself, but any kind of change is really hard, someone told me quitting smoking is harder than quitting heroin… which I’ve not tried. But apparently…”
She shrugs. “We’re just a world of people in recovery from one thing or another. Everyone’s healing from something, and I love these characters that are examples of that. They’re so flawed, but somehow you end up rooting for them.”
'Mom' Season 1 is available now on DVD. Watch the trailer below...