Toronto Film Festival Photoshoots

New photoshoots from Viola’s recent visit to the Toronto Film Festival to promote her new film Widows.


Gallery Links:
Viola Davis Online > Outtakes > 2018 > 004
Viola Davis Online > Outtakes > 2018 > 005
Viola Davis Online > Outtakes > 2018 > 006
Viola Davis Online > Outtakes > 2018 > 007
Viola Davis Online > Outtakes > 2018 > 008

Viola Davis on What ‘The Help’ Got Wrong and How She Proves Herself

Viola did a recent interview with the New York Times where she answers fan questions. She talks about roles that she regrets and the challenges she has faced in her career.

TORONTO — The Oscar-winning actress Viola Davis is the star of the new crime drama “Widows,” which debuted here last week at the Toronto International Film Festival and will be in theaters Nov. 16.

I sat down with Ms. Davis at the Ritz-Carlton to ask her questions from our readers. They wanted to know about past roles, challenges and regrets, and she spoke about what “The Help” lacked and how “Widows” made her feel vulnerable. Here are edited excerpts from her responses.

Can you share either your top three personal or professional challenges that have greatly influenced your career? — Mohun, Dallas

I’d say, No. 1, finding really great dramatic or great roles that I felt were worthy of my potential and talent.

No. 2, always having to prove my ability. I’ve had to do that in sometimes substandard material, sometimes good material, but very very seldom times great material.

No. 3 would be responsibility. The responsibility of feeling like I am the great black female hope for women of color has been a real professional challenge. Being that role model and picking up that baton when you’re struggling in your own life has been difficult. Looking at the deficit and seeing that once you’re on top, you can either take the role of leadership or you can toss it in the garbage and say, “I’m just out to save myself.” I choose to be the leader.

What was the first day of filming with Meryl Streep [for “Doubt”] like? — SNA, New Jersey

Absolutely terrifying, but not because of anything that she was projecting. She could not be any less intimidating. Everything was coming from me, 100 percent. It was a rehearsal. We rehearsed it first because it’s based on a play. So I showed up an hour early, and I just stared at the door waiting for her to come in. And I think I probably ran up to her when she first came through the door, which I’m sure she’s used to, but when I look at it in hindsight I’m very embarrassed.

Have you ever passed on a role and regretted it? — Toti Plascencia, Chicago

I have passed on a lot of roles. There have been one or two that I regretted for maybe a minute, and then I let it go. As I’m growing older, I pass on roles because of my experience of knowing once the movie’s out, I’m going to have to promote it. And I don’t want to promote anything that I don’t believe in.

Almost a better question is, have I ever done roles that I’ve regretted? I have, and “The Help” is on that list. But not in terms of the experience and the people involved because they were all great. The friendships that I formed are ones that I’m going to have for the rest of my life. I had a great experience with these other actresses, who are extraordinary human beings. And I could not ask for a better collaborator than Tate Taylor.

I just felt that at the end of the day that it wasn’t the voices of the maids that were heard. I know Aibileen. I know Minny. They’re my grandma. They’re my mom. And I know that if you do a movie where the whole premise is, I want to know what it feels like to work for white people and to bring up children in 1963, I want to hear how you really feel about it. I never heard that in the course of the movie.

What character has been the toughest to portray? — Lauren McMillen, W.Va.

Rose in “Fences” was difficult because it was difficult translating it to the screen.

Annalise Keating [from the TV series “How to Get Away With Murder”] is tough because I have to go into a realm that is not me. She has a very colorful sexual life. I would not describe myself as being that person.

And Veronica [in “Widows”] was very difficult because she’s got a vulnerability that cost me something as Viola. That has something to do with images onscreen. How many movies have you seen where you see a dark-skinned woman of 53 with her natural hair in bed with Liam Neeson? But I had to get past the fact of what the outside world has not seen, and focus on what the world was.

All of my characters cost me something. I feel like if they don’t cost me anything, then I’m not doing my job.

Toronto Film Review: Viola Davis in ‘Widows’

“In “Widows,” the power of Davis’s performance is that she lets you know, in every scene, that Veronica is living in a world of treachery.”

Steve McQueen’s real-world heist movie gives Viola Davis a powerful role as a crime widow who takes cold-eyed command of her desperation.

Speaking on stage at the Toronto International Film Festival, right before the premiere of “Widows,” his first movie since “12 Years a Slave” (which was five years ago), director Steve McQueen talked about how important it was to set movies in the world of real, recognizable human beings. A lot of us would second that sentiment, yet it’s still not what you expect to hear from someone who’s introducing a heist film. The genre has been around in a major way since the early ’50s, and the template has always been this: When characters get together to plan and execute a robbery, we may see the quiet desperation of their lives, we may taste an ashy undertone of cynical “reality,” but it’s really all about the trip-wire cleverness of the crime itself. Heist movies unfold in a caper-film bubble, and that, one way or another, is their key pleasure.

But “Widows,” as McQueen implied, is another story. It’s a movie in which three women, whose husbands all perished in a robbery gone wrong, band together to steal $5 million, even though none of them has the slightest experience at acting like a criminal. And the web of dire circumstances that lead them to hatch this scheme in no mere set-up — it’s the dramatic heart of the movie. “Widows,” adapted from a British TV crime drama that was first broadcast in 1983, has a script co-written by McQueen and the novelist and screenwriter Gillian Flynn (“Gone Girl,” “Sharp Objects”), and it presents an enjoyably dark and sleazy vision of ordinary lives intertwining with the hurly-burly of street thuggery, local machine politics, and half a dozen other forms of daily corruption.

The movie, set in contemporary Chicago, opens with Veronica Rawlins (Viola Davis) and her husband, Harry (Liam Neeson), who happens to be major crook, kissing the hell out of each other in bed. The simple fact of a mixed-race marriage presented this casually is still startling to see in a mainstream movie, to the point that we can’t help but invest this passionate pair with a certain romantic idealism. But that’s snuffed pretty quickly. Their early moments are intercut with a turbulent chase, seen from the vantage of a getaway van with its back doors banging open, that ends with Harry and his crew being fired on by the police, until the van explodes into flames, killing all the men onboard. So much for domestic bliss.

Veronica is suddenly a widow. More than that, she’s a widow whose husband left her owing $2 million. That’s how much he stole from Jamal Manning (Brian Tyree Henry), who’s running for alderman of his ward, but he’s also a strong-arm crook who demands that Veronica liquidate her assets, including the sprawling penthouse she lives in, to pay him back.

Viola Davis’s commanding performance roots this scenario in icy fear and shock. Veronica can’t believe what’s happened to her (overnight, she has lost everything), and her eyes tell you that she knows it’s just going to get worse. She keeps having flashbacks to her life with Harry, including one where they nuzzle to Nina Simone singing “Wild Is the Wind.” It’s hard not to notice that Davis, her hair cut short, her eyes beams of fury, would be an ideal actress to portray Nina Simone. She has that kind of force.

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Viola & Widows at the Toronto Film Festival

Viola has been taking Toronto by storm this past weekend as she publicizes her new film Widows. She attended two press conferences and a premiere with her cast mates.


Gallery Links:
Viola Davis Online > 2018 > September 8 | Widows Press Conference in Toronto
Viola Davis Online > 2018 > September 8 | Toronto Film Festival – Widows Premiere
Viola Davis Online > 2018 > September 9 | Toronto Film Festival – Widows Press Conference

Viola Davis is Obsessed with ‘Wonder Woman’

I can’t even begin to express how happy this makes me! Viola shares about her new film Widows and her obsession with Wonder Woman with the team from Variety.

Viola Davis opened up about ‘Widows,’ what she’s binge watching and why she’s obsessed with Lynda Carter’s ‘Wonder Woman.’

Viola Davis Knows What’s Wrong With Hollywood… and How to Fix It

Viola is featured on the newest issue of Variety magazine. She talks about her new film Widows that is premiering at the Toronto Film Festival, the Hollywood Pay Gap, and other issues that she has faced in Hollywood.

It was a familiar dilemma for Viola Davis. What to do with her hair?

The star of the upcoming film “Widows” needed to know what kind of wig or extensions she should wear to play Veronica Rawlins, the leader of an unlikely band of robbers scrambling to pull off a dangerous heist. Director Steve McQueen’s answer shocked the Emmy-, Tony- and Oscar-winning actress.

“I said, ‘Your own hair is beautiful — just wear it that way,’” recalls McQueen. “Veronica is a wash-and-go kind of girl.”

For Davis, the decision to appear on-screen in close-cropped, curly hair was liberating and represented an important social statement.

“You’re always taught as a person of color to not like your hair,” she says. “The kinkier it is, the so-called nappier it is, the uglier it is.”

McQueen stressed that he was interested in reflecting reality. More women looked like her, he told the actress, than like the artificial and idealized images of female beauty that Hollywood frequently projects.

“We’re into a zeitgeist where people are fighting for their space to be seen,” says Davis. “People have to know that there are different types of women of color. We’re not all Foxy Brown. We’re not all brown or light-skinned beauties with a big Afro. We have the girl next door. We have the older, dark-skinned, natural-haired woman.”

“Widows,” which premieres at the Toronto International Film Festival and debuts in theaters on Nov. 16, represents other important firsts for Davis. It’s a commercial action pic from a major studio (20th Century Fox) that rises or falls on her performance, as well as a chance for the 53-year old actress to solidify her position on the A-list. Julius Tennon, Davis’ husband of 15 years and the co-founder of their production company JuVee, says the impact could be seismic.

“This could change the face of her career up to this point,” he says. “It’s a chance for Viola to be seen as the lead actor in a global movie.”

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Hawaiian Family Drama From Viola Davis, Lisa Takeuchi Cullen Set at ABC (Exclusive)

Former Time journalist Lisa Takeuchi Cullen will write ”Ohana,’ based on Kiana Davenport’s 1994 novel ‘Shark Dialogues.’

ABC is headed back to Hawaii.

The network is teaming with Viola Davis and Julius Tennon’s JuVee Productions to develop the hourlong drama ‘Ohana. The potential series is based on Kiana Davenport’s 1994 novel Shark Dialogues and follows four hapa women who reunite when their grandmother, a mystic known as a kahuna, dies mysteriously and leaves them the family plantation.

Former Time staff writer and foreign correspondent Lisa Takeuchi Cullen will pen the adaptation.

“So many Hawaii-set stories have been told from the white point of view,” Cullen tells The Hollywood Reporter. “This is a story we’re passionate about telling from the point of view of native Hawaiians — Pacific Islanders, people of Asian descent and people of hapa heritage.”

Each of the four protagonists is of a different mixed ethnicity — half-white, half-Japanese, half-Filipino and half-black — and their unexpected shared inheritance will force them to overcome years of jealousies, misunderstandings, resentments and secrets.

“‘Ohana is Hawaiian for ‘family,’ and that is a big part of who we are and what we want JuVee to support: embracing cultures and points of view from all over the world and showing that we all can relate and connect to each other,” Tennon and Davis, who are married, said in a joint statement.

The deal comes as Crazy Rich Asians’ $35 million five-day opening has provided the comp needed to prove the marketability of Asian-American stories. Cullen says she referenced the Warner Bros. film in her pitch, and it was sold the day Crazy Rich Asians opened.

“The landscape has shifted dramatically in the last 12 months, and maybe in the last week,” she says, adding that she was recently pitched a different idea from a producer who told her, “I would be very open to [the protagonist] being cast with an Asian-American actor, because I think Crazy Rich Asians is going to be the biggest movie this year, and there’s going to be a huge demand.”

“At JuVee, we’re passionate about compelling stories with diverse perspectives, told by diverse voices like Kiana and Lisa, so this project is a perfect fit,” says Andrew Wang, head of TV for JuVee, which has an overall deal with ABC Studios.

JuVee Productions is repped by CAA and The Lasher Group. Cullen is repped by WME and manager A.B. Fischer at Literate Inc.

(Source)

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