What’s The West Wing’s C.J. doing on the May 11 episode of Lost? No one’s officially saying anything about Emmy winner Allison Janney’s mystery character (identified only as ‘Woman’), though online speculation has it that she may be playing the mother of Mark Pellegrino’s Jacob or Titus Welliver’s Man in Black – two of the few recognizable faces in this trippy third-to-last installment titled, “Across the Sea.”
“She’s incredible, but we can’t give away who she’s playing,” says executive producer Damon Lindelof, confirming only that Allison’s role is a major one. “We will confirm that she will be a woman.” (Dang, there goes my big island tranny creation theory.)
Fellow executive producer Carlton Cuse adds, “We were so happy that she was able to do this. It was really hard for her because she was getting ready to shoot a pilot, but she squeezed us in. Then once we saw her in this part we were like, ‘How could anyone else have done this but Allison Janney?”
“In fact,” adds Lindelof, “we’ve been talking about this character for awhile and how nervous we were that we wouldn’t find the right actress. When we first started talking about this character in the writers room we called her ‘Allison Janney’ under the assumption that we wouldn’t be able to get her.”
But the two EPs got on the phone with Allison and had “a lovely conversation,” tells Lindelof. “She’d seen enough of the show to ‘get’ it, but wasn’t completely dialed in. So we explained the part and said it was as close to writing a role for a particular person as we’d ever done. And she moved heaven and earth to go down to Hawaii for eight days.”
Cuse says the mystery role required “incredible presence,” which Allison demonstrated on her long-running NBC drama. “She had so much presence in The West Wing,” he recalls. “She was in charge and had the strength we needed.”
Hmmm… So, since my tranny creation theory’s out the window, might it be possible that Janney’s character was sent to the island on official business by… Martin Sheen’s President Bartlet? Not even in a flash-sideways!