Liam Neeson, Helen Mirren inspired career shift

Allison Janney says Liam Neeson and Helen Mirren inspired recent career shifts

Allison Janney
Photo: Gregg DeGuire (Getty Images)

It’s not easy to dodge typecasting in Hollywood, particularly for an actor far along in their career. Comedic actors struggle to be taken seriously as dramatic performers, and action stars struggle to be taken seriously at all. But Allison Janney knows no such bounds. As she proves in her new film Lou (premiering on Netflix September 23), the Oscar winner can obviously do anything she wants.

That being said, she did look to other stars for inspiration when making the big career pivot to action. In a new interview with The A.V. Club’s own Todd Gilchrist, Janney cites Liam Neeson as a role model for the role of Lou: “I think of his movies and what he did, and I loved watching all of those. And Lou is different, but the same kind of genre.”

Another major inspo? “I know Helen Mirren has done a lot of the Red movies and she did fight sequences and she did Anna. Helen Mirren certainly played a badass before, and I don’t think she’s done fight things before, but she could, I have no doubt.”

So that’s the inspiration, but manifestation also played a part in landing Lou. “This genre, action-adventure, it was something that I always wanted to be a part of. I just never thought that would come my way, being my age, and everything about it,” she explains. “But I conjured it. Because on James Corden’s show, he said, “What do you want to do next after Mom?” And I said I wanted to play an action hero, and I did a high kick or something.”

That high kick must have impressed some people, because soon, J.J. Abrams sent Janney the script for Lou. “And I was so excited. It was exactly what [I’d been waiting for,] and yet I went, oh my God, it takes place at night in a storm? [Seeing] all of those things, I started to get a little nervous about it,” Janney recalls. “But I thought, oh screw it, this is something I’ve always wanted to do.” Now Janney herself will be an inspiration for the rest of us to manifest our dreams and kick serious ass.

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