1. Allison Janney is best known for her role as White House Press Secretary C.J. Cregg on The West Wing. Now she’s nominated for two Emmys—one for her role as Margaret Scully on Masters of Sex and the other for the CBS sitcom Mom. From steamy sex scenes to struggles with sobriety, Janney covers a wide range. 
In today’s interview she tells Terry about how her height has affected her career: 

I say I’m 5’12”. I’m definitely six feet. In my heels I’m 6’3”. … [As a kid], I was always sort of a late bloomer in a lot of things. I always felt that way. I felt like my career started late and I think it was because of my height — and maybe some of my confidence issues.
I was playing 40-year-old women when I was 20. I didn’t get considered for ingénue roles. Maybe I just wasn’t ready, but things started happening when I turned 38. … I think my height probably did have something to do with it – but [my height] also helped me in certain parts. It’s made me definitely more of a character actress in terms of my love of doing comedy. I get cast as either the smartest woman in the room, or the drunkest woman in the room, and a lot of stuff in-between. But I do well getting those kinds of parts — authoritative or completely crazy, which I love. I love both of those kinds of roles.
View in High-Res

    Allison Janney is best known for her role as White House Press Secretary C.J. Cregg on The West Wing. Now she’s nominated for two Emmys—one for her role as Margaret Scully on Masters of Sex and the other for the CBS sitcom Mom. From steamy sex scenes to struggles with sobriety, Janney covers a wide range. 

    In today’s interview she tells Terry about how her height has affected her career: 

    I say I’m 5’12”. I’m definitely six feet. In my heels I’m 6’3”. … [As a kid], I was always sort of a late bloomer in a lot of things. I always felt that way. I felt like my career started late and I think it was because of my height — and maybe some of my confidence issues.

    I was playing 40-year-old women when I was 20. I didn’t get considered for ingénue roles. Maybe I just wasn’t ready, but things started happening when I turned 38. … I think my height probably did have something to do with it – but [my height] also helped me in certain parts. It’s made me definitely more of a character actress in terms of my love of doing comedy. I get cast as either the smartest woman in the room, or the drunkest woman in the room, and a lot of stuff in-between. But I do well getting those kinds of parts — authoritative or completely crazy, which I love. I love both of those kinds of roles.

  2. allison janney

    west wing

    masters of sex

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    fresh air

    interview

  1. It’s like music, you have the sheet music but then you play it and there’s different rhythms to it — there’s different things you hear — there’s things you hear for the first time," he says. "The mistakes are the best part, sometimes.

    — Denzel Washington on performing A Raisin in the Sun every night 

  2. a raisin in the sun

    denzel washington

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  1. Posted on 1 May, 2014

    879 notes | Permalink

    Reblogged from gentsplaybook

    Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner tells Fresh Air about Jon Hamm’s audition for Don Draper. It’s hard to believe that it wasn’t that long ago Hamm was an ‘unknown person,’ isn’t it? 

"It’s become part of the legend of the show that he had to audition seven times, and that was not my doing. He was an unknown person and [the network] required some convincing to rest this multi-million dollar property on an unknown person. …
My litmus test was, at the end of the pilot you find out that he’s married and I would just sort of watch the audition and say, “Do I hate this man? Do I hate this man for cheating on his wife? Do I hate him after everything I’ve seen?” And Jon had a depth and maybe carries — even if it’s fictional — a sense of a wound, a sense of a conscience, a sense of conflict. You’re seeing it on the show all the time. He brought that to it.
Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and I think, “Oh my God, what if I didn’t cast him?” You know? Well, I wouldn’t have a show.”

    Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner tells Fresh Air about Jon Hamm’s audition for Don Draper. It’s hard to believe that it wasn’t that long ago Hamm was an ‘unknown person,’ isn’t it? 

    "It’s become part of the legend of the show that he had to audition seven times, and that was not my doing. He was an unknown person and [the network] required some convincing to rest this multi-million dollar property on an unknown person. …

    My litmus test was, at the end of the pilot you find out that he’s married and I would just sort of watch the audition and say, “Do I hate this man? Do I hate this man for cheating on his wife? Do I hate him after everything I’ve seen?” And Jon had a depth and maybe carries — even if it’s fictional — a sense of a wound, a sense of a conscience, a sense of conflict. You’re seeing it on the show all the time. He brought that to it.

    Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and I think, “Oh my God, what if I didn’t cast him?” You know? Well, I wouldn’t have a show.”

  2. mad men

    jon hamm

    matthew weiner

    interview

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  1. Director David O. Russell (American Hustle, Silver Linings Playbook) spoke to Terry Gross about how he doesn’t want to “break the spell” during filming: 

"I knew that [the role] would be exciting and enticing to [Christian Bale] — to lose himself in this person, that’s what actors who love characters kind of live for. They can take some part of their own soul, some part of my soul and the screenplay’s soul, and who they think the real character is … [and] it becomes this amalgam of a human that they get to live in, like in a trance or like a dream during the movie. Jennifer Lawrence has described it as "a high"; Christian describes it as like "a waking dream." …
[When we’re shooting] I’m in the room with the actors and we don’t call “cut” because I don’t want them to break the spell that they’re in. I just want it to get deeper and deeper. I’ll just keep directing take after take while the camera resets or keeps moving through the room and they kind of stay in character whether they’re talking to me or not.”


Photo by Francois Duhamel View in High-Res

    Director David O. Russell (American Hustle, Silver Linings Playbook) spoke to Terry Gross about how he doesn’t want to “break the spell” during filming: 

    "I knew that [the role] would be exciting and enticing to [Christian Bale] — to lose himself in this person, that’s what actors who love characters kind of live for. They can take some part of their own soul, some part of my soul and the screenplay’s soul, and who they think the real character is … [and] it becomes this amalgam of a human that they get to live in, like in a trance or like a dream during the movie. Jennifer Lawrence has described it as "a high"; Christian describes it as like "a waking dream." …

    [When we’re shooting] I’m in the room with the actors and we don’t call “cut” because I don’t want them to break the spell that they’re in. I just want it to get deeper and deeper. I’ll just keep directing take after take while the camera resets or keeps moving through the room and they kind of stay in character whether they’re talking to me or not.”

    Photo by Francois Duhamel

  2. david o. russell

    american hustle

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  1. Actor Bryan Cranston tells Fresh Air’s Terry Gross about how his appearance is an asset: 

I have a very fortunate look for an actor. You can’t really categorize me. My looks aren’t striking, so therefore I’m more capable of sliding into looking like other people, more chameleon-like, as opposed to let’s say, Jon Hamm, who is this handsome, striking, black-haired, chiseled-looking guy. That’s great for Jon, and he’s a friend and I love him, but I don’t know that you would buy him as Walter White. He would have to fight against his looks in order to do that. So there’s a larger range of roles that are available to me than are available to Jon Hamm, simply because of physicality. And I love that.

photo by Kevin Winter/Getty View in High-Res

    Actor Bryan Cranston tells Fresh Air’s Terry Gross about how his appearance is an asset: 

    I have a very fortunate look for an actor. You can’t really categorize me. My looks aren’t striking, so therefore I’m more capable of sliding into looking like other people, more chameleon-like, as opposed to let’s say, Jon Hamm, who is this handsome, striking, black-haired, chiseled-looking guy. That’s great for Jon, and he’s a friend and I love him, but I don’t know that you would buy him as Walter White. He would have to fight against his looks in order to do that. So there’s a larger range of roles that are available to me than are available to Jon Hamm, simply because of physicality. And I love that.

    photo by Kevin Winter/Getty

  2. Bryan Cranston

    breaking bad

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  1. Director Alexander Payne’s film Nebraska is nominated for 6 Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director. In his recent conversation with Terry Gross they discussed his short in the 2006 anthology film Paris Je t’aime. Terry asks the director about actress Margo Martindale’s emotional scene:     


"You see in that clip that she has very ready access to emotion, and that’s what the great actors have and that’s why life is often so difficult for them because they can’t keep their emotions tamped down as you and I can. So then if you can put an oil pump on the spurting oil well of emotion, then you can be a professional actor.
And so I think we did 4 or 5 takes and she was equally good in all of them and it was just a matter of making sure the camera was right and the timing with the voiceover and so forth. But I clearly remember having 3 or 4 great takes to deal with. The good ones keep it going, it’s not just like oh, one take where they really hit that emotion—well, maybe, but let’s try it again. The cameraman missed it. The assistant cameraman made your eyes out of focus. We need to do it again.
Or, I remember telling Paul Giamatti in Sideways, he was really in a deep place and I had to say, “Okay, stop Paul. Could you please rotate your head 12 degrees to the left?” I mean, we all have to understand that film is technical as well as emotional.”


Fun extra: Here’s Payne on the Colbert Report 

photo via salon credit: Merie W. Wallace View in High-Res

    Director Alexander Payne’s film Nebraska is nominated for 6 Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director. In his recent conversation with Terry Gross they discussed his short in the 2006 anthology film Paris Je t’aime. Terry asks the director about actress Margo Martindale’s emotional scene:     

    "You see in that clip that she has very ready access to emotion, and that’s what the great actors have and that’s why life is often so difficult for them because they can’t keep their emotions tamped down as you and I can. So then if you can put an oil pump on the spurting oil well of emotion, then you can be a professional actor.

    And so I think we did 4 or 5 takes and she was equally good in all of them and it was just a matter of making sure the camera was right and the timing with the voiceover and so forth. But I clearly remember having 3 or 4 great takes to deal with. The good ones keep it going, it’s not just like oh, one take where they really hit that emotion—well, maybe, but let’s try it again. The cameraman missed it. The assistant cameraman made your eyes out of focus. We need to do it again.

    Or, I remember telling Paul Giamatti in Sideways, he was really in a deep place and I had to say, “Okay, stop Paul. Could you please rotate your head 12 degrees to the left?” I mean, we all have to understand that film is technical as well as emotional.”

    Fun extra: Here’s Payne on the Colbert Report 

    photo via salon credit: Merie W. Wallace

  2. fresh air

    alexander payne

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  1. Robert Redford tells Terry Gross about how he always felt uncomfortable being characterized by his good looks:

One of the things that has been sort of weird is to see yourself characterized so often as somebody that looks well, that has glamorous looks, or is appealing physically. That’s nice, I’m not unhappy about that. But what I saw happening over time was that was [what was] getting attention.
I wanted to be good at my craft, and therefore I would be an actor that would play many different kinds of roles, which I did. I played killers, I played rapists, really deranged characters, but most people don’t know about that, because that was in television. So suddenly you’re seeing yourself in a glamour category and you’re saying, “Wait a minute.” The notion is that you’re not so much of an actor, you’re just somebody that looks well. That was always hard for me, because I always took pride in whatever role I was playing. I would be that character.


image via getty/NPR

    Robert Redford tells Terry Gross about how he always felt uncomfortable being characterized by his good looks:

    One of the things that has been sort of weird is to see yourself characterized so often as somebody that looks well, that has glamorous looks, or is appealing physically. That’s nice, I’m not unhappy about that. But what I saw happening over time was that was [what was] getting attention.

    I wanted to be good at my craft, and therefore I would be an actor that would play many different kinds of roles, which I did. I played killers, I played rapists, really deranged characters, but most people don’t know about that, because that was in television. So suddenly you’re seeing yourself in a glamour category and you’re saying, “Wait a minute.” The notion is that you’re not so much of an actor, you’re just somebody that looks well. That was always hard for me, because I always took pride in whatever role I was playing. I would be that character.

    image via getty/NPR

  2. robert redford

    acting

  1. 
"I think that the amount of concentration, sometimes the amount of personal exploration, it takes to do something well, can be not pleasant, you know, like hard work is. That doesn’t mean that you don’t want to do it or that you don’t love it or that it’s not ultimately satisfying. You know that old cliché; you know, nothing’s worth it unless it’s hard to do kind of thing. I wear that on my sleeve sometimes when I’m working… There’s always something about that job that’s exhausting, and that’s what’s exhausting about acting, is the level concentration over very long period of time.

And if you’re carrying that around and the emotional life of that around over a period of time, it can be burdensome. But it’s part of the work, and you’re trying to create something artful out of it. And so, it’s not therapy. So, you’re not there to be in therapy; you’re there to take, you know, what you know and the experiences and behavior and emotional life of yourself and others and try to make something artful out of it. But the carrying of that around and the focusing of that can be, it can be tough.”




-Philip Seymour Hoffman speaking to Terry Gross in 2008 about what he finds difficult about acting


In memory of Mr. Hoffman we put together a show with both of his interviews—one from 1999 and the other from 2008, in addition to a clip from our interview with director Paul Thomas Anderson. . 

photo via the L.A. Times  View in High-Res

    "I think that the amount of concentration, sometimes the amount of personal exploration, it takes to do something well, can be not pleasant, you know, like hard work is. That doesn’t mean that you don’t want to do it or that you don’t love it or that it’s not ultimately satisfying. You know that old cliché; you know, nothing’s worth it unless it’s hard to do kind of thing. I wear that on my sleeve sometimes when I’m working… There’s always something about that job that’s exhausting, and that’s what’s exhausting about acting, is the level concentration over very long period of time.

    And if you’re carrying that around and the emotional life of that around over a period of time, it can be burdensome. But it’s part of the work, and you’re trying to create something artful out of it. And so, it’s not therapy. So, you’re not there to be in therapy; you’re there to take, you know, what you know and the experiences and behavior and emotional life of yourself and others and try to make something artful out of it. But the carrying of that around and the focusing of that can be, it can be tough.”

    -Philip Seymour Hoffman speaking to Terry Gross in 2008 about what he finds difficult about acting

    In memory of Mr. Hoffman we put together a show with both of his interviews—one from 1999 and the other from 2008, in addition to a clip from our interview with director Paul Thomas Anderson. . 

    photo via the L.A. Times 

  2. philip seymour hoffman

    acting

  1. His physical form actually works to his advantage. Philip is not particularly any one way, which means he can be anybody at all. One of the most important keys to acting is curiosity. I am curious to the point of being nosy, and I think Philip is the same. What that means is you want to devour lives. You’re eager to put on their shoes and wear their clothes and have them become a part of you. All people contain mystery, and when you act, you want to plumb that mystery until everything is known to you.

    — 

    Meryl Streep speaking about the late Philip Seymour Hoffman in 2008 after they starred together in Doubt.

    What a loss. Philip Seymour Hoffman 1967-2014

  2. philip seymour hoffman

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  1. In today’s interview with Joaquin Phoenix we ask him about why his character in the film The Master speaks out of the side of his mouth: 

My dad sometimes would talk out of the side; he’d clench down one side of his mouth. And I just thought it represented tension in this way, somebody that’s just blocked and tight.
So I actually went to my dentist and I had them fasten these metal brackets to my teeth on the top and the bottom and then I wrapped rubber bands around it to force my jaw shut on one side. … After a couple weeks, the bands, they weren’t really strong enough to kind of hold it so I ended up getting rid of the rubber bands and I still had these metal brackets in and so it made me constantly aware of my cheek. You know, they had these pointy tips so they’d tear up the cheek a little bit, so I just then was constantly aware of it.
This is so f - - - - - - stupid. Why am I talking about this? … It’s not interesting, it’s so stupid. If I was driving and I heard this, I’d change the channel. … I’d be like, “Joaquin, shut up.”



image via interview magazine View in High-Res

    In today’s interview with Joaquin Phoenix we ask him about why his character in the film The Master speaks out of the side of his mouth: 

    My dad sometimes would talk out of the side; he’d clench down one side of his mouth. And I just thought it represented tension in this way, somebody that’s just blocked and tight.

    So I actually went to my dentist and I had them fasten these metal brackets to my teeth on the top and the bottom and then I wrapped rubber bands around it to force my jaw shut on one side. … After a couple weeks, the bands, they weren’t really strong enough to kind of hold it so I ended up getting rid of the rubber bands and I still had these metal brackets in and so it made me constantly aware of my cheek. You know, they had these pointy tips so they’d tear up the cheek a little bit, so I just then was constantly aware of it.

    This is so f - - - - - - stupid. Why am I talking about this? … It’s not interesting, it’s so stupid. If I was driving and I heard this, I’d change the channel. … I’d be like, “Joaquin, shut up.”

    image via interview magazine

  2. fresh air

    joaquin phoenix

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  1. I’ve observed that actors and directors envy each other. I think a director envies an actor’s ready access to emotion and how beautiful that is, and I think actors can envy directors’ dealing more clinically with emotions, ordering them about dispassionately.

    — Alexander Payne, Oscar-winning director talks to Fresh Air about the technical and emotional aspects of filmmaking

  2. fresh air

    interview

    alexander payne

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  1. You need to ask questions and you need to ask the right questions. Alan asked me how I saw the man and I said, ‘I saw him as Abraham Lincoln –- I don’t see him as a villain. This man is a hero with his agenda, with his point of view.’ I did not intend to play Clayton Townley as one chromosome short of a human being, like a lot of people will play various villains in movies … In real life, everyone kind of sees themselves as the good guy, doing what they’re doing. They see themselves as a kind of hero, and I wanted to make sure Clayton Townley … wasn’t played as some kind of genetic miscreant.

    — Stephen Tobolowsky on playing the role of Ku Klux Klan leader Clayton Townley in “Mississippi Burning”

  2. Stephen Tobolowsky

    acting

    Mississippi Burning

  1. Actor Stephen Tobolowsky’s theory on the names of less important characters

If it’s a comedy, you get your job description and your first name like in ‘Wild Hogs’ I played Sheriff Charlie… If you are playing a serious role, you get the job description and your last name - Detective McClaren, Agent Jones. Now then there’s a level below that in which you get no name… You just get sometimes your job description - homeless man, man on train, man with a limp.

    Actor Stephen Tobolowsky’s theory on the names of less important characters

    If it’s a comedy, you get your job description and your first name like in ‘Wild Hogs’ I played Sheriff Charlie… If you are playing a serious role, you get the job description and your last name - Detective McClaren, Agent Jones. Now then there’s a level below that in which you get no name… You just get sometimes your job description - homeless man, man on train, man with a limp.

  2. Stephen Tobolowsky

    acting

  1. I can go into an audition with my makeup and my hair and my lashes and come out with these roles…. Which goes into the area of perception, and how people perceive black women of a certain hue, and when I say certain hue, I mean black women who are darker than a paper bag. And I’m a dark-skinned black woman who is 46 years old. And I don’t know about you, but when I go to see movies, I don’t see a lot of women like me in glamorous roles. Not in any mainstream movies, and inevitably when I say that people mention one person — but usually just one. I don’t see a lot of narratives written … where a woman who looks like me gets to be beautiful and sexualized and upwardly mobile, middle-class, funny, quirky. They’re very seldom written.

    — Viola Davis on how people perceive her.

  2. viola davis

    acting

  1. When I made The Devil Wears Prada, it was the first time in my life that a man came up and said, ‘I know how you felt. I have a job like that.’ First time. … For men, the favorite character that I’ve ever played is Linda in The Deer Hunter, without question. The heterosexual men that I’ve spoken to over the years, they say, ‘That’s my favorite thing you’ve ever done.’ Or Sophie. And they were a particular kind of feminine, recessive personalities. No question that this person was not going to dominate the conversation at a dinner party. So they fell in love with her, but they didn’t feel the story through her body.

    — Meryl Streep, on how men view her roles

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