Six Degrees of….Allison Janney?
If there is anyone in the world who doesn’t love Allison Janney, I don’t know about it or they have been sent into deep, deep hiding. Everyone loves her—because she can do everything. Beloved prestige dramas? Of course. Gigantic Chuck Lorre sitcom that’s one of the few shows gaining in viewership? Absolutely. The Kaiser Permanente radio commercials that tell me for sure when I’m in L.A.? EVEN THESE ARE BELOVED.
So of course it’s great to hear that she will star in the Broadway revival of Six Degrees of Separation, alongside John Benjamin Hickey, who I’m going to let you Google, because you’ll go ‘oh, THAT guy!’
Here’s the thing about Six Degrees of Separation though. Ouisa, the role Janney will play, is a juicy part and so is husband Flan. But the juiciest part in this play is Paul, the friend of their son (don’t spoil it), who meets them unexpectedly. The movie version is what first convinced people that Will Smith was a real actor who could carry movies, and not just a sitcom star. It’s a demanding role, it has fun and surprises and code-switching – and it’s the kind of part that doesn’t come along that often.
So my fascination with this show falls squarely on who gets to play that role—a role that’s career-defining and exciting. The thing is, the character is supposed to be young – so don’t pay any attention to people who suggest Michael B Jordan is right for the part, just because he’s the most prominent young black actor they can think of.
I hope this role goes to an unknown, someone so powerful and talented that they become a household name after starring in a play that only a fraction of a percent of people have actually seen. Call it the Lin-Manuel Miranda effect.
Okay, call me crazy, but you know who IS kind of the right age (barely), and who I would have totally struggled against until I watched The Get Down? Who would generate all kinds of media traffic and column inches and who, I have to say, can probably totally do the job? Maybe?
Jaden Smith. I would never have thought it before, but the kid does have presence! Imagine that, considering his genetics…but I was still surprised.
I know. I know!! I don’t like that kind of cutesy Like Father Like Son stuff, and probably the expectations are too much, and why should he get a job just because of a weird nostalgia factor instead of some hugely talented unknown who has probably just graduated from Juilliard Drama and will absolutely bowl us over, and we shouldn’t even think of Jaden Smith, just like I don’t want to hear it in 10 years when Hazel Moder wants to play Shelby in a remake of Steel Magnolias…
Still, it’s intriguing. I’m looking forward to seeing how this one turns out.
Attached - Allison Janney honoured with her star on the Walk of Fame this week and Jaden Smith out in LA with friends.
Amanda Edwards/ Albert L. Ortega/ Michael Tran/ gotpap/ Bauer-Griffin/ Getty Images