View's Allison Janney: Suddenly, a Tragedienne

View's Allison Janney: Suddenly, a Tragedienne The audience sees A View from the Bridge through the eyes of Beatrice Carbone, a Red Hook housewife all too aware of the tragedy that her dim-watted longshoreman husband, Eddie, invites. "Beatrice means truth in Latin," says Allison Janney, who displays a mother lode of it at the Neil Simon. "It's the biggest challenge I've ever had. After I've done two shows in one day, I wake up the next day with a hangover. It's more draining than I thought it would be."
A View of Janney--with Anthony LaPaglia in A View From the Bridge
A View of Janney--with Anthony LaPaglia in A View From the Bridge (Photo by Photo by Joan Marcus)

The audience sees A View from the Bridge through the eyes of Beatrice Carbone, a Red Hook housewife all too aware of the tragedy that her dim-watted longshoreman husband, Eddie, invites. "Beatrice means truth in Latin," says Allison Janney, who displays a mother lode of it at the Neil Simon. "It's the biggest challenge I've ever had. After I've done two shows in one day, I wake up the next day with a hangover. It's more draining than I thought it would be."

Nothing in her largely comedic past prepared Allison Janney for such heavy-duty dramatics. "I was really surprised I got this part," she readily confesses -- so you can imagine how she feels winning the Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle awards as well as a Tony nomination for it.

She arrived at her Present Sorrow directly from Present Laughter, and if there's anything farther removed from fencing with Frank Langella, it's doing the same with Howard Stern - which she was doing, by day, filming Private Parts.

Currently, you can find Janney on the big screen as Jennifer Aniston's know-it-all stepmom in The Object of My Affection. "I had a small part in Primary Colors, too. I got to do some physical comedy I'm kinda proud of."

Janney arrived here in 1982, did two years at the Neighborhood Playhouse, ventured out into Off Off-Broadway and regional theatre. "My career started in my mid thirties. Before that, people liked my work, but they didn't know what to do with a six-foot-tall actress." Next stop would seem to be Three Tall Women -- but first, please, some comedies . . .