Allison Janney

Actress


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In her nearly two hour Archive interview, Allison Janney talks about her early interests in figure skating and theater acting. She describes auditioning for a play directed by Paul Newman while at Kenyon College, and her later mentoring by Joanne Woodward, which led her to her training at the Neighborhood Playhouse. She comments on some of her first television roles, and describes her experiences working in television movies and feature films, including "David and Lisa", 'Primary Colors", and "American Beauty". She then details the role for which she is most identified, that of press secretary "C. J. Cregg" on The West Wing, a role which earned her four Emmy Awards. Janney talks of her audition, describes her character, and gives her impressions of her fellow actors in the ensemble. She discusses working with series creator Aaron Sorkin, her enthusiasm for the show's signature "walk and talks", and recounts some memorable "C. J." storylines. Jennifer Howard conducted the interview on October 6, 2006 in Beverly Hills, CA.

"Everyone kept telling me, 'It's probably not going to get picked up because no one's going to want to watch a show about politics. It's just probably too smart.'"

People Talking About ...
Highlights
Allison Janney on her West Wing character, "C.J. Cregg"
Allison Janney on the "walk and talks" on The West Wing
Allison Janney on her Emmy wins for The West Wing
Allison Janney on her role in Alan Ball's film "American Beauty"
Allison Janney on how 9/11 was dealt with on The West Wing and where she was on 9/11
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On her childhood and early influences; on wanting to be a figure skater; on her interest in acting
On her first professional acting job and her early TV roles on Guiding Light, Law & Order, and several television movies

Chapter 2

On her film roles in "Big Night" and "Celebrity"
On auditioning for The West Wing and playing "C.J. Cregg"
On working with The West Wing creator Aaron Sorkin and director Thomas Schlamme

Chapter 3

On her co-stars on The West Wing
On how Aaron Sorkin and Tommy Schlamme's departures changed The West Wing; on the "walk and talks"
On specific episodes of the show: "The Women of Qumar", "Posse Comitatus" (and episodes where "C.J." has a stalker), and "The Long Goodbye"
On her character "C.J. Cregg's" priorities on The West Wing; on favorite episodes, how the show handled 9/11, and the final season

Chapter 4

On the last season of The West Wing; on worries about being typecast and her Emmy wins for The West Wing
On advice about acting, the highlight of her career, and what's next for her
Shows

Blind Spot

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Allison Janney on appearing in the TV movie Blind Spot

Cosby Show, The

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Allison Janney on meeting Bill Cosby and her appearance on The Cosby Show

Emmy Awards, The (Primetime and Daytime)

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Allison Janney on her Emmy wins for The West Wing

Guiding Light

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Allison Janney on playing "Ginger" on Guiding Light

Law & Order

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Allison Janney on her appearances on Law & Order

Mary Tyler Moore Show, The

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Allison Janney on loving The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Mary Tyler Moore

Morton & Hayes

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Allison Janney on auditioning for and appearing on Morton & Hayes

West Wing, The

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Allison Janney on auditioning for The West Wing
Allison Janney on her early days on The West Wing and the show taking off
Allison Janney on her knowledge of politics when cast on The West Wing
Allison Janney on getting invested in her West Wing character, "C.J. Cregg" 
Allison Janney on her West Wing character, "C.J. Cregg", and what she brought to the role
Allison Janney on her West Wing character, "C.J. Cregg's" backstory and strengths 
Allison Janney on working with The West Wing creator, Aaron Sorkin
Allison Janney on working with The West Wing director, Thomas Schlamme
Allison Janney on her co-stars on The West Wing
Allison Janney on how Aaron Sorkin and Tommy Schlamme's departures changed The West Wing
Allison Janney on the "walk and talks" on The West Wing
Allison Janney on specific episodes of The West Wing: "The Women of Qumar"
Allison Janney on specific episodes of The West Wing: "Posse Comitatus" (and episodes where "C.J." has a stalker)
Allison Janney on specific episodes of The West Wing: "The Long Goodbye"
Allison Janney on her character "C.J. Cregg's" priorities on The West Wing
Allison Janney on her favorite episodes and scenes on The West Wing
Allison Janney on how 9/11 was dealt with on The West Wing and where she was on 9/11
Allison Janney on the last season of The West Wing
Allison Janney on the last season of The West Wing
Allison Janney on the critical success of The West Wing
Allison Janney on her Emmy wins for The West Wing
Topics

9/11

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Allison Janney on how 9/11 was dealt with on The West Wing and where she was on 9/11

Characters & Catchphrases

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Allison Janney on her West Wing character, "C.J. Cregg, and what she brought to the role

Diversity in Television

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Allison Janney on her West Wing character, "C.J. Cregg"

Emmy Awards

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Allison Janney on her Emmy wins for The West Wing

Historic Events and Social Change

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Allison Janney on how 9/11 was dealt with on The West Wing  and where she was on 9/11

Pop Culture

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Allison Janney on her West Wing character, "C.J. Cregg, and what she brought to the role

Women

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Allison Janney on her West Wing character, "C.J. Cregg"
Professions

Actress

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Allison Janney on becoming interested in acting and doing a play directed by Paul Newman
Allison Janney on memorization's place in acting
Allison Janney on worries about being typecast
Allison Janney on her acting style
Allison Janney on the most important advice she ever received about acting
Allison Janney on advice to aspiring actors

Performers

View Profession
Allison Janney on becoming interested in acting and doing a play directed by Paul Newman
Allison Janney on memorization's place in acting
Allison Janney on worries about being typecast
Allison Janney on her acting style
Allison Janney on the most important advice she ever received about acting
Allison Janney on advice to aspiring actors
Genres

Daytime/Primetime Serials

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Allison Janney on playing "Ginger" on Guiding Light

Drama Series

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Allison Janney on auditioning for The West Wing and playing "C.J. Cregg"
Allison Janney on working with The West Wing creator Aaron Sorkin and director Thomas Schlamme
Allison Janney on her co-stars and memorable episodes of The West Wing
Allison Janney on the final season of The West Wing and her Emmy wins for the show
People

Woody Allen

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Allison Janney on her role in Woody Allen's film "Celebrity" and asking Donald Trump for advice

Alan Ball

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Allison Janney on her role in Alan Ball's film "American Beauty"

Eileen Brennan

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Allison Janney on her mother's career as an actress and her mom's friendship with Eileen Brennan

Timothy Busfield

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Allison Janney on her co-stars on The West Wing - Timothy Busfield

Bill Cosby

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Allison Janney on meeting Bill Cosby and her appearance on The Cosby Show

Christopher Guest

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Allison Janney on auditioning for and appearing on Morton & Hayes

Mark Harmon

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Allison Janney on specific episodes of The West Wing: "Posse Comitatus" and episodes where "C.J." has a stalker

Dule Hill

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Allison Janney on her co-stars on The West Wing - Dule Hill

Rob Lowe

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Allison Janney on her co-stars on The West Wing - Rob Lowe (and how his departure affected the show)

Michael McKean

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Allison Janney on auditioning for and appearing on Morton & Hayes

Michael Moriarty

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Allison Janney on her appearances on Law & Order

Paul Newman

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Allison Janney on becoming interested in acting and doing a play directed by Paul Newman
Allison Janney on getting to know Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward

Mike Nichols

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Allison Janney on impressing Mike Nichols and getting cast in several of his films

Sidney Poitier

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Allison Janney on working with Sidney Poitier in the TV movie David and Lisa

Rob Reiner

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Allison Janney on auditioning for and appearing on Morton & Hayes

Richard Schiff

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Allison Janney on her co-stars on The West Wing - Richard Schiff

Thomas Schlamme

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Allison Janney on working with The West Wing director, Thomas Schlamme
Allison Janney on how Aaron Sorkin and Tommy Schlamme's departures changed The West Wing
Allison Janney on her Emmy wins in the supporting and lead actress categories for The West Wing

Martin Sheen

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Allison Janney on her co-stars on The West Wing - Martin Sheen

Aaron Sorkin

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Allison Janney on auditioning for The West Wing
Allison Janney on working with The West Wing creator, Aaron Sorkin
Allison Janney on how Aaron Sorkin and Tommy Schlamme's departures changed The West Wing
Allison Janney on how 9/11 was dealt with on The West Wing and where she was on 9/11

John Spencer

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Allison Janney on her co-stars on The West Wing - John Spencer (and how his death affected the show)

Meryl Streep

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Allison Janney on appearing in the TV movie First Do No Harm with Meryl Streep

Donald J. Trump

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Allison Janney on her role in Woody Allen's film "Celebrity" and asking Donald Trump for advice

Stanley Tucci

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Allison Janney on impressing Mike Nichols and getting cast in several of his films, and working with Stanley Tucci

John Wells

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Allison Janney on John Wells taking over when Aaron Sorkin and Tommy Schlamme left The West Wing

Bradley Whitford

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Allison Janney on her co-stars on The West Wing - Bradley Whitford

Joanne Woodward

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Allison Janney on getting to know Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward

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