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Allison Janney Steals the Show in Palm Royale

She's the Queen Bee!
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Allison Janney is lazy. No, we’re not talking about the prolific actress who has worked steadily since scoring her big break just before turning 40, starring in seven seasons of the TV smash hit The West Wing from 1999 until 2006.

We’re referring to a koala named Allison Janney who, says the star, is particularly lethargic. “I bid on it at an auction, and I won, so now there is a koala named Allison Janney,” she explains to WHO. “Apparently, Allison Janney likes to sleep all day. Just a little fun fact.”

WATCH: Allison Janney takes home an Oscar for best supporting actress

It’s also a fact that Janney, 64, is as busy as her marsupial namesake is snoozy.

In the past two decades, she’s garnered consistent praise for her work as a journeyman actor in beloved films, including Juno, 10 Things I Hate About You and The Hours. She also starred in eight seasons of the sitcom Mom and won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in 2018 for her role opposite Margot Robbie in I, Tonya.

In the upcoming Apple TV+ series Palm Royale, based loosely on Juliet McDaniel’s novel Mr. and Mrs. American Pie, she steals the show as Evelyn, a ruthless, snooty gatekeeper of a wealthy lady social circle at a swanky Palm Beach, Florida, country club in 1969.

The stacked cast features Kristen Wiig, Laura Dern, Mindy Cohn, Julia Duffy, Kaia Gerber and Leslie Bibb.

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Allison Janney is a familiar face some from some of the biggest shows on TV. (Credit: Alamay)

“We would laugh our arses off,” Bibb tells WHO of the female-heavy cast. “To get to work with all these great women, there wasn’t a rotten apple in the bunch. It was like a masterclass in acting, and [Allison] is the queen bee. She does it so effortlessly and it’s so crazy how mean she can be and how diabolical she is, and she is the nicest, funniest most self-deprecating human being on the planet.”

For Janney, playing against her nature is a blast. “That’s what’s fun about acting. You get to play someone who is not like you at all,” she says of her cut-throat character. “Even though underneath she is very insecure and fearful, but she covers it up masterfully.”

Getting into the role, she adds, was helped by the elaborate sets and costumes of the period comedy.

“From the minute I got into hair and makeup, that alone put me in a different state of mind, and then putting on the costumes and walking onto the sets and seeing everyone else, we all looked like we had stepped out of Slim Aarons’ photograph,” she says. “You couldn’t help but feel like these ladies of the time.”

Another highlight was working with co-star Ricky Martin (“He’s just heaven,” she says. “Just the best.”) as well as comedy legend Carol Burnett, who will turn 91 in April. The pair hit it off and keep in touch by playing Wordle together. “Carol will share her score, and I share my score, and it’s been going since we started this show two years ago,” Janney tells WHO. “It’s extraordinary that my idol – the woman I grew up watching and wanting to be like – not only did I get to work with her, I get to talk to her every day.”

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The star-studded cast of Palm Royale includes Kristen Wiig, Leslie Bibb and Laura Dern. (Credit: Apple TV+)

While she fantasised about having a career like Burnett’s growing up in Dayton, Ohio, Janney’s earliest ambition was to be a professional figure skater.

“That was my first dream,” she spilled in 2018. “I was actually very graceful but … I’m 6 feet tall … It just wasn’t my thing.”

Janney has said she believes her height worked against her early in her acting career, but she’s come to embrace it.

“It’s made me definitely more of a character actress,” she told NPR in 2014. “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.”

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The talented actress won an Oscar for playing LaVona Golden in I, Tonya (Credit: Alamay)

Next up, Janney is headed to New Mexico to begin production on the film Miss You, Love You, a drama about a grieving widow forced to plan her husband’s funeral with the personal assistant of her estranged son.

“I can’t imagine ever retiring,” Janney has said. “I’m just going to keep doing it; I will, forever!”

Where to watch Palm Royal 

Watch Palm Royal on Apple TV+ with a 7-day free subscription here

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