Allison Janney on Her Height, Filming a Sex Scene at Age 50 and ‘The West Wing’

Allison Janney in Mom

“And my height certainly was a challenge. As a teenager, I played men in my first two plays.” – Allison Janney

Emmy-winning actress Allison Janney is not only a successful acting veteran of both film and television, she is known to be an affable, fan-favorite star. Still, there is a lot fans of the Mom actress probably don’t know about Janney that she revealed in an interview in the New York Times — like how tall she really is and whether or not that has affected her career in a negative way, what it was like to film a sex scene at age 50, and her thoughts on her memorable character on The West Wing.

Janney explains that her six-foot height has affected her career in numerous ways — though mostly good ways, surprisingly. She says, “It’s a crippling fragility that I have had to deal with my whole life. My friends and I laugh when I say, ‘The wound is the gift,’ because I feel like it serves me very well in my acting. And my height certainly was a challenge. As a teenager, I played men in my first two plays.”

One thing that was difficult for Janney recently was filming a sex scene for the series Masters of Sex — not something most actresses attempt at fifty years old. She still describes the scene as difficult, admitting, “It was unusual to have to do that at 50. I’m like, Really? I still haven’t seen it. I’m one of those actors who fall into the camp of never wanting to look at themselves on camera ever, thank you very much. I do not and will not, because I am my worst critic. I think it was the hardest thing I ever had to do, to pretend that I was having an orgasm onscreen.”

Despite her success in film and television over several decades, Janney will likely always be best known for her role as White House Press Secretary C.J. Cregg on The West Wing. She actually appeared in-character at an actual White House Press Conference, which was a big hit with the press corps and fans of the series. Unlike some actors who shy away from talking about their signature roles, Janney is happy to discuss playing Cregg even ten years after the series ended. She says, “I love it. The only downside is that I wish I were more like C.J. than I am like me.”

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