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Allison Janney talks funny sex scenes, being a late bloomer

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“Late Bloomer” is not really the first term that comes to mind when describing Allison Janney. The universally beloved actress, who made her own news Sunday night when she made out with James Corden at the Critics Choice Awards after winning again for her role as a recovering addict on Mom, had some devastatingly honest sex scenes in last season’s Masters of Sex. But as the actress gears up for a very busy summer—complete with stints in Spy and Minions—we sat down with her to find out how she ticks.

What we learned is that this 6-foot actress loves herself some salsa dancing, has a knack for physical comedy, and was in fact a late bloomer when it came to tackling the on-camera sex scene. Read on for some excerpts from our chat; for the full interview, pick up the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly, on stands now. 

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: I had no idea you were so good at physical comedy. 

ALLISON JANNEY: Oh my God, it’s my favorite. I was a figure skater. I played lacrosse, field hockey. I did farce at the Neighborhood Playhouse. I’m so grateful that my parents made me do all the ballet and modern dance and figure skating. Being so tall, I think it is important to have a good sense of my body. 

Were you always tall? 

Yeah. In all of my class photos I’m in the back row in the middle. The apex, you know, and everyone else went down. So I didn’t have a boyfriend until college. I’ve always been a late bloomer to things. And I was induced. So I attribute everything to that. I’m always on my heels to any kind of new activity.

But you said yes to Masters of Sex.

Yes. And I go back Monday. And I have to get naked. 

Who are you getting naked with? 

I don’t know. I gave them some suggestions of people I’d like to get naked with. I don’t think George Clooney was available. So I have no idea. Can you believe that? It’s the weirdest business. 

Time has been fast-forwarded a bit in the Masters storyline, right? Margaret’s been revolutionized. 

A little bit, yeah. She’s a smart woman, Margaret Scully. I think she wants to experience everything that she missed out on being married to a gay man for her whole life. 

You don’t get to see women in that kind of situation. 

I think there are still so many women who are married to gay men. And who doesn’t want to be married to a gay man? I’ve wanted to be married to at least four gay men. I mean, truly. They are some of my favorite people, the most sensitive, lovely. They just don’t like [redacted]. I think that’s probably why I’m not married—because I keep falling in love with gay men. 

Was that your first sex scene? 

Unfortunately, no. I did this scene for Todd Solondz. This movie called Life During Wartime. I had to have sex with Michael Lerner [X-Men: Days of Future Past]. He had to push me up against a wall, and they wanted us to look sweaty for the shot, like we’ve been at it for a while. So they sprayed this glistening stuff all over us. They didn’t realize that we’re on a marble floor. So he pushes me up against the wall and all of a sudden we drop out of frame because he slips and he drags me down with him. He falls on his knees and I can’t stop laughing. Todd was trying to get me to stop because I think Michael was really hurt. And I couldn’t. And the cameraman couldn’t stop either. But he really hurt his knees. He had to go to the hospital. So that was my first sex scene. 

Did that scene seem easy in hindsight compared with what you’ve had to do on Masters of Sex

Yes, that was just grunting up against a wall. But now I have more nuanced sex scenes and have these expressions of my first orgasm over my face. And the whole crew is looking at me. I’m not comfortable doing any of that.  

Do you think anyone is? 

I don’t think so. It was very hard to do. I don’t know. We’ll find out on Monday who’s going down on me. Cheers!