Oscar® update | How Tonya's mom got emphysema

Allison Janney is nominated for best supporting actress for her role as figure skater Tonya Harding's abusive mother in "I, Tonya."

While the film is based on real events, the chain-smoking LaVona Golden could not be located before production began, says Janney. So she and a bird improvised some major character details — including emphysema.

I got to audition three birds for the role ... The woman gave me one, I put it on my shoulder, and one of them kept crawling in my hair. And I was, like, “Next.” The other one was very talkative. And then Little Man — I think that was his name — just sat there and was so sweet. I walked around with him and he just continued to sit there like he could chill out with me all day. I fell in love with him.
 
Cut to filming, there’s a lot of distraction. In the last minute I decided to give LaVona emphysema, because the bird lady didn’t want us to smoke around the bird. I was, like, “Oh, thank God I don’t have to smoke in this scene.”
 
So I had [an] oxygen tube and oxygen tank. Then that bird, Little Man, got on my shoulder and became fascinated with my oxygen tank thing and my ear, and just kept poking at me. [Source]

This episode reminds us how Hollywood plays fast and loose with smoking, even when depicting an actual person. The tiny bird's trainer didn't want Little Man exposed to smoke on set, which gave Allison Janney a chance to avoid smoking in yet another scene, but left the fictionalized LaVona Golden with a spur-of-the-moment lung disease.

The next time Hollywod claims it merely represents reality when it shows smoking in more than half of all movies, remember Little Man, the bit-player parrot whose trainer said no to smoking. That's better protection against tobacco than the studios give an Oscar-nominated actor — or any young person watching.