Allison Janney had a good reason to skip the gym this morning: As she was getting ready to work out, her publicist let her know that she had scored two Emmy nods. One nomination is for her role as a struggling alcoholic looking to reconnect with her daughter in CBS sitcom Mom; the other’s for her guest role as Margaret Scully in the Showtime drama Masters of Sex. “It was a great way to start my day,” Janney told EW.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Congratulations! I was so excited to hear about your nominations.
ALLISON JANNEY: I was too. I’m in Atlanta, and I was getting ready to go to the gym, because I thought I was going to hear at like 10 a.m. Atlanta time. Then I looked down to get my phone and I saw it had blown up. And I called my publicist, who immediately told me I was a double nominee, which is so thrilling and exciting to hear. It was a great way to start my day here in Atlanta.
How are you going to celebrate?
I’m going to my friend Chris Lowell’s, who was in The Help with me. He is an amazing photographer, and he has a photography exhibit opening in Atlanta tonight. I’m going to that, and my friend Octavia Spencer is going to come for that, and Kathryn Stockett who wrote The Help. We’re all going to celebrate Chris and hopefully raise a glass to me as well. [laughs]
What was your favorite scene to shoot this past season on Mom?
There are so many, but Anna [Faris] and I had a great time doing the flash-forward scene where we had to go through all the special effects make-up and I got to be a 70-year-old, 80-year-old woman. She got to be older and much heavier. It was just really fun going through that process and getting to play and do myriad takes for the gag reel. We had a great time. Both of us loved working with Octavia and Mimi [Kennedy] on all those episodes where the four of us were together on road trips and things. It was just great. Great girls to play with.
One of the great things about Mom is how it’s very much a sitcom, but has this dark premise about your character struggling to keep her life together, essentially.
I loved the places that Chuck [Lorre] is letting our characters go and explore in terms of emotional depth, which I think makes you earn the laugh. I really love how he’s taking all these not-funny subject matters, like cancer and teen pregnancy, and we’ve dealt with them in a real way without making fun of them or anything. Just watching people go through these awful, real things that happen in people’s lives and you’re able to laugh with them, which makes you root for them more and feel for them.
You had an amazing role on Masters of Sex this past season.
I think that it was an unbelievable role. It’s the ’50s, where women weren’t expected or allowed to do anything much more than be homemakers, and gay men were not even allowed to exist in the eyes of anybody. It was so taboo. And to have these two in this marriage, and Margaret Scully, my character—just this woman who can’t figure out what’s wrong with her, why her husband doesn’t want her, and then to want to be better sexually for him and discover that she’s never had an orgasm. Just all these things unfold and you go, “This poor woman.” And yet she wasn’t a victim at all. She was like, I’m going to get to the bottom of this. Her journey is just remarkable, and you just fall in love with her because she’s a strong woman who has needs. She’s not going to brush them under the rug. She wants to be there for her husband, but you don’t know where it’s going to go.
What show—and this can be old or new, on or off the air—would you give your own Emmy to, just because you love it so much?
[Pause] God, there are so many great shows.
If it helps, I just talked to Lizzy Caplan and she said Real Housewives.
Oh, Lizzy! That makes me mad she said that. I am not a fan of reality TV so I would say… my God, just for the sheer scope of it and the unbelievable hours it must be to shoot it, Game of Thrones is extraordinary. I love that show.