Allison Janney is set to return to the big screen this week as she teams up with filmmaker Paul Feig for the first time with comedy Spy.
The movie sees her team up with Melissa McCarthy, Jude Law, and Jason Statham for what is one of the must see action/comedies of the summer.
We caught up with the actress to chat about Spy, working with Feig for the first time, and what other projects are on the horizon this year.
- Spy hits the big screen this week. Can you tell me a bit about what to expect from the film?
Expect the unexpected- it turns the spy genre upside down. It really is a fresh new look at it with Melissa McCarthy stepping into the James Bond style role. And there you have it; you know you are in for a treat! I play Elaine Crocker, head of the CIA, a no nonsense, very stern and serious woman who happens to talk like a truck driver which is kinda unexpected and really fun!
The women are doing the heavy lifting in this, which is unique in a spy movie, and it really is a refreshing take on the whole genre. It is a laugh out loud riot- I actually saw it for the first time last night at the premiere and I just had the best time. My cheeks hurt from laughing so much!
- You take on the role of Elaine Crocker in Spy, so what was it about this character and the script that was the major draw when you read it for the first time?
I actually just got a call from Paul (Feig, the Director) who asked me if I could fly out and before I knew it, I was on a plane to Budapest. It was amazing, I didn't even read the script, I just said yes!
You don't say no to Paul Feig, who has single-handedly pushed for possibilities for women in movies and continues to create great roles for women. He asked and I would literally do anything for him! I happen to love Melissa McCarthy too- she and I are old friends. Watching her star rise and shine has been a real personal joy for me.
- Paul Feig is in the director's chair and is a master when it comes to comedy. How did you find working with him and what kind of director is he?
Firstly, he is the best dressed director I have EVER worked with. Dapper, divine, just such a gentleman. He is a very generous director and he is very appreciative of his actors. He would do this thing where at the end of each scene, he would just get you to say some other lines at the end, a bunch of them one after the other.
The camera would be rolling and he would say 'Okay, now say this', 'Now say this!' he would just throw out a bunch of lines and for me, it was really fun- it was like a game we were playing. I was hoping there was going to be a big gag reel after but I am going to have to ask him if he can show me some!
- Paul is a director that really does seem to write well for women but how collaborative a process is it between him and the actors?
Very much so- especially with Melissa. He and Melissa have a short hand with each other! She can give him 20 takes of the same line or scene, she will just keep talking or making up stuff, it was amazing to watch them work together.
For me, I am not totally uncomfortable improvising but I wasn't overly comfortable improvising as the head of the CIA because in order to do that, you have to know a great deal about what being the head of the CIA entails and what sort of language you would use. But Paul was so collaborative- those who can and wanted to improv he would just let them run with it and just go!
- Can you talk about working with such a great cast? The movie sees you reunite with Melissa McCarthy, how did you find that? Also, comedy is not a genre of film that we are used to seeing Jason Statham tackle, so how did you find working with him? Paul Feig always seems to get his casting spot on.
Jason is just so enormously gifted! What was so great about his performance is that he just had to commit 150% to everything to it. He did it brilliantly.
If I were him, I would feel pretty proud that I tried something so different and was so successful at it. A lovely guy too, behind the camera. A really cool, fun guy!
- During your career, we have seen you move between television and film projects, how do you find moving between the different mediums?
The only thing that is hard with films is the filming itself. It is very long hours and it is tiring. For the show 'Mom' that I am on, I can be at home and drive into work. It is very civilised- the hours are reasonable. Maybe 8 hours the most in one day.
The difference is the amount of time that you have to commit and filmmaking is exhausting- really exhausting. The older I get, I love to do them but not all the time because it is exhausting.
- You have enjoyed a career that has spanned over thirty years, so how has the way that you choose you projects changed during that time?
I love that I get to choose and also have the freedom to decline things that perhaps I don't want to do. There is a time in your career where you feel like you have to take everything and now I feel like I don't have to take everything. I do like to take things that I think challenge me in new ways or it is the people. Like, I wanted to work with Paul and Melissa so that is why I wanted to do this.
I am doing a project in New York in June called Tallulah with Ellen Page. The script - I feel in love with it. It is a very low budget movie - it will probably cost me to do it. But I love it and the script meant something to me so I want to do that. And thankfully being on my TV show, I can afford to be part of a movie that perhaps doesn't pay as much.
- Finally, what's next for you going through the rest of this year?
I have Tallulah as I mentioned above but I also have Minions, which is the animated feature that I got to be a part of. It is a great fun movie! I will also go back to Season 3 of Mom- which I am excited about too.
I am thinking about doing a play in New York next year. I am always thinking down the road about shaking things up a bit. I need to get back to the theatre or if I wait too long I may get too afraid to do it.
Spy is released 5th June.
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