A version of this story first appeared in the print edition of TheWrap Magazine’s The Race Begins Emmy Issue.
Can an actress with an arty reputation – a Tony Award, three Critics’ Choice awards, three noms each for Oscars, Golden Globes and Emmys, plus the starring role in a Pulitzer Prize-winning play, “The Heidi Chronicles” — fit in on an emotional rollercoaster of a show created by “Scandal’s” Jenna Bans?
At first, Joan Allen thought it a bad idea to take the lead on Bans’ “The Family,” in which she plays the mother of an abducted child. “I got the script a month after I wrapped on “Room” [in which Brie Larson won an Oscar playing Allen’s abducted daughter],” she said. “I told my agent, ‘Didn’t I just play that scene with the newscasters in front of the house?'”
But Allen soon realized her role as a mom who pours her grief into a career as a crusading mayor was an entirely different kind of drama. “‘Room’ is a microscopic study, and ‘The Family’ is more of a launchpad to tell a bigger story about a family,” she said.
“I liked that Jenna did a gender reversal: My character responds to the trauma in a way often associated with men — digging into your work — while my husband [Rupert Graves] becomes an author who gives talks about grief and loss, stays in the emotional moment of trauma, almost like a woman would respond.”
Allen was also reassured by “Scandal” star Jeff Perry, her old pal from Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre. “I met Jeff when I was 19, and he said that now broadcast TV is like being part of an ensemble,” said Allen.
Read more of TheWrap Magazine’s The Race Begins Emmy Issue: