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'The Help': Allison Janney's funny ad-lib

Emma Stone tells us about a secret outtake that’s too blue for the DVD’s extras

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The extras on the new Blu-ray of last summer’s Southern-fried hit The Help (2011, PG-13, 2 hrs., 17 mins.) are a scant mix of a making-of doc, a featurette, and some amusing deleted scenes. (The anemic DVD has only the latter.) But according to star Emma Stone, one of the movie’s funniest — and dirtiest — moments may have been lost forever on the cutting-room floor. It happened while she was shooting a scene in which her character, Skeeter Phelan, nervously introduces her new boyfriend (Chris Lowell) to her iron-willed mother (Allison Janney). The encounter is squirmingly awkward until Mrs. Phelan learns that the young man is the son of a well-known senator — at which point she melts like butter on a hot griddle. You can watch a clean version of the exchange in the deleted scenes on the DVD. Janney plays the moment with perfect comic subtlety, bugging her eyes and crunching an ice cube between her teeth.

Yet Stone says the best take of that scene is one we’ll probably never see. ”[Director] Tate Taylor dared Allison to say something so that everyone [in the crew] would laugh,” recalls Stone, barely containing her giggles at the memory. ”So we do the scene, and Allison goes, ‘Well, Senator Whitworth? He f—ed me silly after Ole Miss won the Sugar Bowl!’ Everyone burst out laughing behind the monitor. Whenever I see that scene I just imagine Allison saying that.”

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