An Interview With Allison Janney About Her New Film The Way Way Back! #TheWayWayBack

There was no compensation received for this post. All opinions are those of my own.


Hey All!

Our resident movie buff aka the fiancé had the amazing opportunity to check out the film The Way Way Back and interview one of it’s amazing stars Allison Janney. Here are his thoughts on the film and his interview.

“The Way Way Back” is a modern coming of age story of socially awkward teen Duncan (Liam James) as he and his mom (Toni Collette) visit a small beach town for summer break. They are staying with his mom’s boyfriend (Steve Carell) and his own daughter (Zoe Levin). Next door are another single mother (Allison Janney) and her teen daughter (Anna Sophia Robb) and pre-teen son (River Alexander). Amanda Peet, Sam Rockwell, Maya Rudolph, and Rob Corddry round out the rest of the amazing ensemble cast.

Here is the trailer for a little taste of this film:

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of interviewing the amazingly talented Allison Janney who plays the character Betty, a single mother of two living next door to the boyfriend of our main character’s mother.


Below are a few highlights from the interview:

Allison spoke about the different dynamics in the relationships between her character with her children and with her friends:

Jim (Rash) and Nat (Faxon) really put everything on the page.  And they further cemented those relationships in their direction, because Jim and Nat did tell me to treat my son Peter, played by River Alexander, as if he’s my husband, that we are an old married couple bickering with each other.  And then, when you layer that on top of a mother/son relationship, it becomes very funny.

And then with Anna Sophia (Robb), for most of our scenes we weren’t together.  I’d be yelling at her from across the room and trying to connect with her.  But at the start of the movie, we are not connected at all.  We are miles apart.  And then, at the end, you know, there’s a lovely moment we have together. Betty is just tragic.  She’s just working as fast as she can to let everyone know that she’s fine and everything’s great in her life, and she’s happy and together.  And she broke my heart because I knew how much pain she was in underneath.

When asked about receiving any advice about playing a mother from her own mom, Allison had this to say:

My mom inspires me for every role I do.  My mom is in every role I do. 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 just know behavior is funny, and I know why it’s funny. It’s usually when someone is trying to be incredibly serious or earnest that something’s funny.  I know it’s not because they’re trying to be funny, and my mother is very much like that.  And she makes me laugh, the things that she thinks are important, the things that she gets obsessed with, like a hot towel rack. And I think, “Are you kidding me?  Why are you worried about that?” It frustrates me, because as all our mothers do at times.  But, it also makes me laugh and I love her so much for it, so I always bring her into every mom I play.  And I’ve played a lot of moms.


Allison also spoke on the flaws of the characters and why those flaws make them characters to cheer for:

I think deep down they’re worthy of being rooted for because they’re very human and flawed.  Everybody has issues.  Everybody has character flaws. I think that’s why they’re very relatable.  As much of a “screw up” as Owen is or as badly as Betty is, behaving or drinking too much, I think that we know why. We see the pain underneath or the struggle. You see them at least trying.  You know that they want to be better people. Betty wants to her family to be together.  She wants to find someone who really loves her and who she loves.  And Owen wants to be a more responsible man. You know they want to be better people, and you like them.  You root for them because they’re believable and you recognize them.

When asked what her favorite part about playing the outrageous Betty, Allison had this to say:

I think it’s just her boundary-less behavior and her brazenness. I wanted to strike that balance especially with River, who played Peter, my son.

I say some pretty shocking, awful things to him and the challenge for me was to be able to say that and yet have the audience know how much I love my son and I’m just trying to give him some tough love.  So, I got to do that with some physical things and some adlibs they let me throw in at the end of scenes.

It was important to me that you see that she really loved him. It was just he’s got a lazy eye, you have to stare at the bridge of his nose, and that’s what you do.  If you want to show me something, you need to point because with your lazy eye, I don’t know where you’re looking.  It’s all very practical and she just wants him to have some skin, maybe the skin that she doesn’t have, or she didn’t have to be tough and be able to deal with life and all the ups and downs that are going to come his way because of his eye. I loved that part of Betty, finding that balance.

The Way Way Back is in theaters this July 5th and is rated PG13.

For More information on this film Visit the official website or Like and Follow The Way Way Back on Facebook and Twitter with the Hashtag #TheWayWayBack.