Justin Long, Octavia Spencer Join CBS Sitcom ‘Mom’

Anna Faris, left, and Allison Janney of "Mom" on stage at the 2013 TCA Summer Press Tour in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo: Francis Specker/CBS)

We have Chris Pratt (“Parks and Recreation“) to thank for Anna Faris accepting her very first full-time television gig. The actress, who stars on CBS’s latest Chuck Lorre sitcom, “Mom,” says she’d intended to stay home for a while after the birth of her son, but her actor-husband urged her to read a script she’d been sent that was laying on their kitchen counter.

She’d been half-heartedly combing through scripts for low-commitment jobs after having the baby when Pratt happened to scan the first page of “Mom.” “He said, ‘Whatever you’re doing, put it down right now. … This is you,'” Faris says. “And it felt like that. Every once in a while you get fortunate enough to play a role that kind of feels like Cinderella’s shoe.”

Faris stars as Christy, a newly sober single mom juggling relationships, her kids, her exes, her addiction recovery, and the return of her estranged mother (Allison Janney of “The West Wing”) — while living in California wine country. Explains creator Chuck Lorre (“The Big Bang Theory,” “Two and a Half Men,” “Mike & Molly“), “This is a story that’s very meaningful to me because it’s about starting your life over again, repairing the damage you’ve done,” Lorre told reporters Monday at a press conference for the show during the Television Critics Association summer press tour in Los Angeles. “Nothing to do with me personally, but fixing the mistakes you’ve made in the past, restoring relationships, getting another start.”

To help Christy on her journey, Faris will be romanced by newly announced guest star Justin Long, who will play her first post-recovery boyfriend.

“We’re real excited about that,” Lorre said. “That’s going to come up in the first few episodes. And poor bastard doesn’t know what he’s in for, but he is going to be her first shot at a meaningful relationship in this new chapter in her life.”

Oscar-winner Octavia Spencer (“The Help”) also was just announced as a guest star, who turns up in “Mom’s” fifth episode as a woman whose life is such a mess that it makes Christy realize her life isn’t so bad in comparison.

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While Faris has made a name playing dim-witted but hilarious women in films like the “Scary Movie” franchise and “The House Bunny,” she appreciates that Christy is actually relatable. “Playing those one-dimensional characters is actually really difficult because you’re not dealing with somebody you would ever really know,” she says.

And since Christy’s addiction days are behind her, it’s even easier to be on her side. “By having the character of Christy have the nightmare of her life, for the most part, being in the rear-view mirror allowed us to explore this character in a way that we could have children in the show, and we could root for her, and we’re not worried about the children,” Lorre said. “We know that all of her efforts are entirely focused on redeeming the relationship with her kids, redeeming the relationship with the people at work, and reclaiming her life.”

“The Daily Show’s” Nate Corddry and French Stewart (“3rd Rock from the Sun”) round out the supporting cast, playing the manager and the chef, respectively, at the posh Napa Valley restaurant where Christy works as a waitress.

“Mom” premieres Monday, Sept. 23 at 9:30/8:30c on CBS.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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