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Allison Janney and Jurnee Smollett Talked to Us About Exploring Strong Female Characters in ‘Lou’

Lou movie: Allison Janney and Jurnee Smollett standing in the woods, looking disconcerted and tired.

Have you ever thought to yourself, “I wish I could see Allison Janney be an absolute badass in a movie opposite Jurnee Smollett”? Well, you’re in luck! The new Netflix film Lou takes us into the wilderness when a young girl is kidnapped by her father, and her mother (Jurnee Smollett) and their neighbor Lou (Janney) go on a journey to find her. This movie is a masterclass in two badass women who are willing to do what it takes to survive.

It’s a new venture for Janney, who is famous for her work in things like The West Wing and her Oscar-winning performance in I, Tonya, but Smollett is and always will be seen as an action badass thanks to her role as Dinah Lance (a.k.a. the Black Canary) in the DC movie Birds of Prey. Within Lou though, the relationship between Lou and Smollett’s Hannah is vital to the story. We’re following them, for the most part, and without their relationship working so flawlessly, the movie could have fallen short. So I asked Janney and Smollett about the work they did together to create that back and forth we see in the film.

“Starting, we got to sit down with Anna Foerster, the director, and go through the script and talk about the beats and what we thought needed to be there to help build that very relationship you’re talking about,” Janney said. “Just clarifying and knowing where they’re coming from. Lou is a woman who comes from a life of being in service to her country, duty, and working by herself and here’s she’s forced to work with Jurnee’s character in a very extreme and dangerous situation and she has to find a way to let her in and work with her because she doesn’t want to.”

For Smollett, it was down to rehearsing and working through the script to build that relationship we see onscreen. “It was a lot of going through the script, rehearsal. But also just diving in the mud, literally,” Smollett joked. “I think we individually did so much preparation and Allison, obviously, with the physicality and I spent a lot of time at a domestic survivor shelter called Jenesse Shelter here just trying to research my backstory. But I think, as two actors, you come together and you crash. You just have to speak the truth.”

You can see our full interview here, and I did bring up both I, Tonya and Birds of Prey:

Lou is on Netflix on September 23!

(featured image: Netflix)

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Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. A writer her whole life but professionally starting back in 2016 who loves all things movies, TV, and classic rock. Resident Spider-Man expert, official Leslie Knope, actually Yelena Belova. Wanda Maximoff has never done anything wrong in her life. Star Wars makes her very happy. New York writer with a passion for all things nerdy. Yes, she has a Pedro Pascal podcast. And also a Harrison Ford one.