Mom (CBS) Interviews: Anna Faris and Allison Janney Talk Sitcom, Addiction, Comedy and More

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Chuck Lorre’s latest series, Mom, is about a newly sober single mother, who struggles to raise two kids and deal with her formerly estranged mother, who’s also a recovering drug and alcohol addict.

So far in its first season, the show has tackled quite a few important and heavy issues surrounding addiction, while never losing its coming. At the helm are its two leads Anna Faris (Christy) and Allison Janney (Bonnie), who bring the show to life.

Faris and Janney both recently took some time to answer a few questions during the Warner Bros Mondo press tour about Mom and its approach to heavier subject matter, their experience joining a sitcom for the first time, a few teases about what’s coming up and more.

Below you can find first Anna Faris’ interview, followed by Allison Janney’s.

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On her experience being a lead in a sitcom

Anna Faris is loving this new experience. She described it as “the most satisfying job I’ve ever had.”

“I love the TV family that we have. I love my cast members. I love the idea that I get to potentially play a character for an extended period of time. I love it that -my character dates a little bit-, but I don’t really have a love interest; that my struggle is one of trying to be a better mom.” She finished, “I drive to work every day, and I’m just so thankful and happy.”

On tackling heavy issues on Mom

Mom doesn’t shy away from heavy issues such as alcoholism and cancer, and Faris is really happy that they do deal with these issues.

“It’s terrifying. We just had an episode air about breast cancer. And it’s one of those things, like how do we deal with breast cancer. I feel like we’re a comedy that has a lot of deep emotional moments. And I’m hoping that our audience in turn will become emotionally invested with us and care about our journey as opposed to dealing with issues of, I don’t know, the laundromat’s closed or whatever. I mean, not to knock, I love everything out there, but it’s very satisfying as an actor, for me, and I hope that our audience agrees.”

On whether being a mom in life helped her play one on screen

Faris does feel slightly more qualified although while she has a little baby in real life, her character has a 16 year old daughter.

She shared, “I think I’m still finding my footing with Christy being a mom. And I find it’s two very different worlds. And I think that maybe that’s okay because I think Christy, being newly sober, is still finding herself as a mom. Like we’re dealing with sort of the storyline of my daughter’s pregnancy. And I asked the writers, you know, “Why isn’t my character more mad?,” you know. Like “You’re making the same mistake that I made. You’re making the same mistake that Bonnie made. Your dreams, whatever you had, everything is going to shift now.” And I think that the explanation of why my character isn’t more mad is because she’s ‑‑ and who knows? Maybe in the next episode, I’ll get furious. I don’t know. But I think that right now she’s struggling with so much guilt. So I think she has to swallow a lot of her anger and try to repair the damage that she’s done as a mom, or at least that she feels that she’s done.”

On struggling with sarcastic lines

Faris shared, “I’m not a very sarcastic person in real life at all. Pretty much ever. I’m an actually really earnest person. And so when my character is sarcastic, when Christy’s sarcastic, I struggle with it. So I’ll ask him [husband Chris Pratt] a lot, like, “How do I deal” ‑‑ “how do I do this line?” And he’ll  run some ideas by me.”

On what surprised her the most about being on a TV show

To Faris, one of the most surprising thing about joining Mom, was how much satisfaction she gets out of it.

“For me, it’s been amazing. I love that shooting in front of a live audience is amazing because I grew up doing theater, and so it taps into my love for that. But the best part is they laugh at everything. They’re the most generous, they want to be there, and they’re so generous. You can sort of do no wrong. It’s kind of the best audience you could have. So I’m just loving it.”

On what the writers added to the show based on her

“I have been falling a lot,” Faris explained, “which I learned in all the “Scary Movie” I fell a lot. I was constantly, like, hit in the head. So, not to brag, but I’m pretty good at falling. [Laughs]. And so they’ve started to incorporate that.”



On what we can expect for Bonnie the rest of the season

“You can expect the unexpected with Bonnie,” Janney shared, “She will have a relapse, fall off the wagon. She will find a lot of company with strange men. She will be teaching her grandson things that will make your eyebrows raise. She will also make you laugh. She and Christy will continue to try to find each other again and understand and forgive each other. And she will have unlikely friendships with old enemies.”

On what appeals to her about portraying Bonnie

While Bonnie might not be similar to Janney as a person, she loves playing her. She shared, “I love playing characters like that who are unapologetic and kind of shoot from the hip and don’t care what anybody thinks about them. They’re so fun to play.”

On whether she’s more comfortable with drama or comedy

“I feel most comfortable when it’s a healthy mix of both, which I feel like “Mom” is a little bit,” Janney said. “In “Mom,” Chuck [Lorre] has encouraged us to get deeper emotionally. And there’s a couple scenes that I have that I was allowed to be very emotional and also make fun of myself within that, sort of go back and forth, which I think is very real. When someone’s going through something painful, we have a tendency to laugh at ourselves or try to, within telling something sad, sort of go, “Look what I did,” just sort of self deprecating humor.”

On whether they improvise on the show

“Where I improvise is during the live taping in front of the audience, we improvise within the structure of the script,” she said. She also added that most of the improv is on the physical side of things but not so much with changing lines. She explained, “the words are very important to the writers who have written them, and they don’t really want us to add or subtract to them because they’re very fond of them.”

On using comedy to tackle serious issues

Although there is nothing funny about addiction or cancer, Janney was clear that the show does not make fun of them. “We own them, and we are in them. When you go into AA meetings or Al-Anon meetings, a lot of people use it as standup comedy. They go up, and they’re proud of what they used to be. And they talk about it. That’s how they get through it, is by laughing. And that’s what we’re doing in this show. We are not commenting or making fun of it. We are in these people’s lives who are going through recovery, and they are struggling, like everyone.”

On Anna Faris

“I just fell in love with her in “House Bunny” and “Lost in Translation,” Janney said. “She’s fearless. She is really excited about this. She’s taken to it really well. She likes to work the same way I do of talking about things and asking for, her opinion: “Is this funny, or is this funny?” We help each other out like that. So we’re finding our way together in this, because I didn’t really know this world either, the multicam world. So I find that we’re both helping each other through the process. Like “God, are you as scared as I am before this?” We get so nervous before the tapings on Friday night. We’re getting a little more relaxed because we realize how much the audience loves it when we mess up. That’s, like, their favorite part. So now I have no fear. If I flub a line, they just cheer. And it’s so awesome and fun. So we’re finding our way through it together, and I’m loving it. Loving working with her too. She’s really sweet.”

On what she likes about making people laugh

Making people laugh is like a drug to Janney. Hearing people laugh on Friday nights fills her with joy. She also really enjoys performing new material after a rewrite during the live show and hearing the audience’s fresh reaction to it.

She also talked about making show creator, Chuck Lorre, laugh. “When you make him laugh, it’s, like, “Ah, job security.” [Laughs] It’s great.”

On what makes her laugh

People’s behavior makes me laugh,” Janney said. “I love the silly things people do. I love the way the stakes are incredibly high over a broken chocolate turkey at Thanksgiving. That just makes me laugh. Like that kind of stuff, that sort of humor. And Will Ferrell, of course.”

Mom airs on Mondays at 9:30pm on CBS.