ComingSoon Editor-in-Chief Tyler Treese spoke to Lou stars Allison Janney and Jurnee Smollett about older women in action roles and child actors. The film is now streaming on Netflix.
“A young girl is kidnapped during a powerful storm,” reads Lou‘s synopsis. “Her mother joins forces with her mysterious neighbor to set off in pursuit of the kidnapper. Their journey will test their limits and expose the dark secrets of their past.”
Tyler Treese: Allison, what was it like showing this badass side to yourself?
Allison Janney: I grew up with two brothers, so I wanted to show what I put them through. I was pretty physical growing up and very athletic. I was looking for a movie like this. I didn’t think I’d be lucky enough, at my age, to find a role like this. When it came, I had to pinch myself a little bit, because I thought, “this is exactly what I’ve been wanting, what I’ve been thinking about. Am I really going to do it? Can I do it?” And then I said, yes. And then I was terrified that, “oh my God, I’ve got to really do it.” And then I’m so glad that I got partnered with Jurnee because she is such a badass and such a gift to me to do this movie with, because she threw herself into everything with me. She was not shy about any of the elements we had to battle and any of the character development we had to discover together, it was just a great experience. I’m so lucky. So it’s a dream job that I got to do.
Jurnee, the young actress that plays your daughter in the film is so talented. You were also a great child actress, so I was curious if you gave Ridley [Asha Bateman} any advice during filming?
Jurnee Smollett: For one, she comes from a mother, who’s an actress, a father, I think, who’s a stuntman. She’s just got it naturally. It’s in her genes. I didn’t have to give her much advice per se. I mean, we rehearsed. We ran lines and stuff like that.
Allison Janney: I think just showing up by example. I think she learned [from] watching us and I think that’s the best thing that we could do for her. I think she probably learned a lot without knowing she was learning a lot.
Jurnee Smollett: Yeah, exactly.
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Allison, as you mentioned, it’s pretty rare for female-led action films to have a lead in their sixties. We see it all the time with males. Do you hope that this film will show that women can do these types of roles?
Allison Janney: Yes! Absolutely.
Jurnee Smollett: Hell yeah! Not only can they, they do!
Allison Janney: I mean, for God’s sake Helen Mirren, she could … a lot of women at my age and older can handle this kind of stuff and want to. I’m hoping I get to again, with even more physicality. I’d love to learn more … I learned hand-to-hand combat. I’d love to learn all the other kinds of martial arts.
Jurnee Smollett: Like mixed martial arts.
Allison Janney: I love it. I’m excited.
Jurnee, your performance is so great because you capture the fear of having your daughter taken away from you, but you also show such strength and resolve throughout the film. How did you kind of find that mix? It’s a careful balance.
Jurnee Smollett: Thank you. Yea, it was very intentional, you know? I think for Hannah … she’s a survivor. I didn’t want to portray her as a victim. There’s a real difference between the two. I think for Hannah, things happen to her. Really awful things happen to her, but she’s got a spirit of resilience and a determination. She’s a mama bear and there’s something primal that she taps into. While she may not have the skills that that Lou has, and Lou might judge her for some of the sacrifices that she’s made in her life or some of the choices she’s made — and she judges Lou! I think they compliment each other and they learn from each other. What one has, the other one doesn’t have. I spent some time at a domestic violence shelter here in Los Angeles called the Jenesse Center. I learned [that] these are women who are truly resilient and are survivors. So I think that’s what we more so wanted to portray.
Allison Janney: It’s important not to show her as a victim, which is maybe what Lou’s character thinks of her as. She shows her that she couldn’t be more wrong and they learn things from each other and give each other gifts that take their lives in different directions.