'The Help' exclusive: Allison Janney joins the cast

alison-janneyImage Credit: Greg GormanFirst she was Juno’s stepmom. Now she’ll be Skeeter’s mom. Dreamworks Studios has hired Emmy-winning actress Allison Janney to play Charlotte Phelan, the mother to heroine Skeeter Phelan, in the film adaptation of Kathryn Stockett’s best-selling novel The Help.

Tate Taylor, a childhood friend of Stockett’s, is directing the adaptation from a script he wrote. Emma Stone (Zombieland) is set to star as aspiring writer Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan, while Viola Davis will play Aibileen. Octavia Spencer has been cast as Minnie, and Bryce Dallas Howard is set to play Hilly, Skeeter’s childhood friend and adult nemesis.

Janney, who most recently played a key character in one of the final episodes of Lost, is best known for her seven years on the award-winning television show The West Wing. She can next be seen in Todd Solondz’s new feature Life During Wartime and is also starring opposite Matthew Perry in the upcoming ABC series Mr. Sunshine.

The Help is filming this summer in Greenwood, Miss. and will open in theaters next year.

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  • Sarah

    I love Alison Janney – she is a tremendous actress and I know she will do a wonderful job. I can’t help but be a little bummed that they aren’t casting more southern actresses. I don’t want to hear horrible, exaggerated charicatures of a southern accent.

    • Luddite

      If it’s any consolation, I don’t think Allison Janney will overdo the accent. I can say with authority (as a born and bred Minnesotan) that her accent in Juno was thick, but not inaccurate. (I like to think my own Minnesota accent isn’t quite that bad.)

      • SirLizard

        Don’t you mean, “isn’t quite thyat byad”?

    • Molly

      I wouldn’t mind some actual southerners in this either, but that’s really my only complaint w/ the casting so far. I think each of these actresses are very well-suited to their characters, so long as they don’t butcher the accent.

      • Molly

        also, does anyone know if Celia has been cast yet? or any of the men?

      • Melissa

        check imdb. they have one of the men cast and who may play Celia.

    • nyshopgirl14

      Also, I know a Mississippi accent is different than a Tennessee one, but Allison Janney’s accent was perfection in Our Very Own (which took place in Tennessee.) And this is coming from someone who grew up there.

  • Nicole

    I am very happy with all the choices! Sounds like a good movie!

  • Briana

    Alison Janney,Emma Stone and Bruce Dallas Howard! Perfection!

  • Anne

    Ok, I like Allison Janney, but…. Isn’t Mrs. Phelan supposed to be a frail little woman? And isn’t Janney about 6 feet tall? Which makes her much, much taller than Emma Stone. Which is silly, because in the book, Skeeter towers over everyone (including and especially her mother), and her mother is always complaining that Skeeter is too tall. So, um… what?

    • California Lady

      @Anne – thank you!! Allison Janney is great but all wrong for the book’s dynamics – Mrs. Phelan should be more of a Kyra Sedgwick-type, and a Laura Dern-type would make more sense for Skeeter…

    • Jamie

      Obviously you guys are forgetting the magic of movie making. How else can you explain Tom Cruise appearing to be taller than his leading ladies on screen.

    • lisa

      That’s exactly the same thing that i thought of. Skeeter is supposed to be so much taller than her mother..and Janney is very tall. That said, I think she is a fantastic acress…filming is taking place on this right now directly across the street from my house in Greenwood…I am excited to see some of the cast!

  • susangabriel

    Sounds like the cast is coming together beautifully. Allison Janney is the best!

    This was a great book and things are looking good for it to be a great movie.

    Susan Gabriel
    author of Seeking Sara Summers
    (a novel about falling in love with your best friend)

    • steve

      nice plug there for yourself susan.

  • Kristal

    Not one of those actresses were who I thought could play the characters in an adaptaion of the book. But I really like them all. I think Bryce is going to be perfection as Hilly.

  • Audrey

    Bryce Dallas Howard would have been a good choice for Celia – too bad they cast her as Hilly!! You know who would have been a great Hilly? The actress who plays Lois on “Mad Men”. EW won’t let me post a link to her photo, but look her up and tell me she doesn’t have Hilly written all over her.

    • JD

      I was thinking Alison Brie, who plays Pete Campbell’s wife Trudy on Mad Men, would be great as Hilly.

  • Art

    What great casting! I will see Viola Davis in anything. She is one of the BEST actresses currently working!

    • Dee Jones

      I totally agree with you about Viola Davis. I watch her read the phone book! I`m so glad she`s doing so well these days. I smell a second Oscar nod for this film for her.

      • CC

        you are so right! Viola Davis is going to do a fantastic job

  • Dannie

    I love her, but I am curious –how old is this photo? Or is it a lot of airbrushing?

  • john

    The only thing alison haney brings to a role is height.

  • Brett

    To me, she’s best known as the annoying radio spokespeson for Kaiser Permanente Medical Group.

  • Melissa

    I don’t really care for Emma Stone as Skeeter. Also isn’t Aibileen supposed to be a on the heavy side? Pictures I’ve seen of Viola Davis she’s pretty tiny.

  • Goood

    Jabob and the MiB’s “mommy”.

  • Teresa

    i have to watch anything she does.

  • Lauren

    I guess I’m okay with this. I’m just not feeling Emma Stone as Skeeter at all. I could actually see Bryce Dallas Howard in that role better than her. My fantasy movie has Claire Danes as Skeeter. And yes I know she is too old, I still think she embodies Skeeter so well. I’m echoing earlier concern that the accents will be WAY overdone. Hopefully this movie will pleasantly surprise me because I love the book.

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