Tony nominee Allison Janney on women on Broadway, CJ Cregg, and being funny “in spite of myself”

Allison Janney is nominated for another Tony award, this time in the Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical category for her performance in 9 to 5: The Musical (not, sadly, for her role in Prop 8. The Musical). Janney won two Emmy Awards for her role on The West Wing, and was nominated for a Tony in 2002.

Janney in 9 to 5: The Musical

Melissa Silverstein has a new interview with Allison Janney on her Women & Hollywood blog, where Allison talks about 9 to 5, The West Wing, and working with Meryl Streep in The Hours.

Here are some of my favorite excerpts from the interview:

W&H: Could 9 to 5 be this year’s Wicked?
AJ: That it such a great show, the relationship between two women.  You never see that in a Broadway show. What is so trite about it?

I totally agree about needing more Broadways shows about relationships between women, but — don’t shoot me — Wicked bored me a little. Great singing and green makeup, but … eh. Just couldn’t get into it. (I didn’t like the The Wizard of Oz movie much, though, either, so clearly I should just steer clear of anything related to that story!)

W&H: In the last season of the West Wing CJ was so amazing.  What do you think it is about her that resonates?
AJ: She was so damn good at her job and yet she didn’t lose her femininity. She was in the boys club and holding her own. You admired and respected her. She made you laugh. She made you cry. You felt like you could know someone like her. She was a real character.

On this I definitely agree! CJ was one of my favorite characters on The West Wing, and I loved how her character evolved over the years to become the president’s Chief of Staff. One of life’s great pleasures is watching a confidant, competent woman in charge.

W&H: You do drama with comedy and comedy with drama.  Are you first a comedic actress or a dramatic actress?
AJ: I think that my drama is infused with comedy. I’m better at physical comedy than anything else. I took a lot of ballet and figure skating and was athletic. I know how to move my body around. I think I’m funny in spite of myself.

Being funny in spite of herself is working out pretty well. If you need proof, just watch her in one of Karman’s favorite movies, Drop Dead Gorgeous. Janney was hilarious, and her hair deserved its own Oscar.

Read the full interview here, and see all the other women nominated for the Tonys here.

And just for fun, check out this pic of Janney on the red carpet at the premiere of 9 to 5: The Musical:

What’s your favorite Janney role to date?