|Allison Janney, right, and AnnaSophia Robb play a mother and daughter in "The Way, Way Back."|
Joining a fun roster of co-stars, including Steve Carell, Sam Rockwell and Maya Rudolph, Janney plays Betty, the overbearing next-door neighbor to Carell -- who plays against type as a boyfriend you'd tell any good friend to dump.
After near-constant mocking from Trent, the introverted Duncan decides to ditch the fam and find his own path to summer happiness and stumbles upon the Water Wizz water park, which is run by the gregarious and offbeat Owen (Rockwell). Along the way, Duncan finds a friend in Betty's daughter, Susanna (AnnaSophia Robb).
I caught up with Janney via conference call a few weeks ago and asked her a couple of questions about her mom's influence and what it was like shooting with funny man Steve Carell. (Here are the edited excerpts.)
L.A. Story: You play a mom in The Way, Way Back. Was there any advice from your own mom that you've taken with into mom roles?
Allison Janney: That's a very interesting question. My mom inspires my for every role I do. My mom is in every role I do. There is some aspect of her. She is one of the loveliest women, but also very funny. She doesn't know why she's funny, which makes her even funnier. And I think that's what I strive to bring to characters like her, because I'm not a comic. I'm not a stand-up comic. I just know behavior is funny, and I know why it's funny.
L.A. Story: You star with such fun actors like Steve Carell and Toni Collette. And Steve Carell plays so against type in this. What was it like on the set with those two actors?
Allison Janney: We had a couple of fun nights, especially when we were waiting around to film a scene where the screen directions said, "The adults stumble into the dunes," and that's all we had to do. So, we got to hang out in one of the holding houses together—he, Toni Collette and I.
We had a great time getting to be just silly and sharing stories about summer vacations. He was really fun to hang out with. I wish I'd had more scenes with him.
I also learned it's very hard to act on a boat, in a rocking boat. I'm looking out at the ocean. I'm down in Santa Monica, and I just was remembering that day out on the boat with Steve and Toni and Amanda (Peet). Amanda was getting sick, and we were all just feeling that it's really hard to act on a boat all day. But, he definitely makes anything more fun.