Viola Davis has been nominated for Best Lead Actress in a Drama for her role in How To Get Away With Murder. Her fellow nominees are Claire Danes, Taraji P. Henson, Tatiana Maslany, Keri Russell and Robin Wright.
Congratulations to Viola! This is well deserved 🙂
Entertainment Weekly spoke with Viola about how director David Ayer helped her get into character for Suicide Squad.
Even the veteran actress was thrown by the David Ayer school of movie-making
Viola Davis is no prude, but the two-time Oscar nominee was reduced to giggles when it came time to relay how she worked with Suicide Squad writer-director David Ayer to portray the manipulative special agent Amanda Waller.
With no special powers or abilities, Davis was already at a disadvantage when portraying Waller. Rather, she had to rely on her character’s cunning and wits to become the baddest baddie of all.
“She’s a strategist. She’s a manipulator. She doesn’t fly in the sky or swim in the water,” says Davis. “She’s just a regular person who can manipulate these superheroes. And I love that.”
Davis also loved working with Ayer. She calls her boss a combination of Cecil DeMille and Shaggy from Scooby-Doo, an even-tempered dudebro on the surface who can manipulate his actors with the briefest of asides.
Take Davis’s interaction with Joel Kinnaman, who plays Rick Flag, the guard dog of the Suicide Squad and Waller’s first lieutenant. Davis had big plans for how she was going to play the scene before Ayer, walked up and whispered a new line into her ear.
“He would make me call, [Davis starts laughing and can’t really stop] Joel Kinnaman a p—y at times. A bitch. [More laughs.] It’s completely politically incorrect but it caused a reaction in me,” says Davis. “It made me feel like a straight up thug, and it made Rick Flagg want to kick my ass. So David got what he wanted.”
Kinnaman, for his part remembers that day on set vividly.
“Some of the stuff she said really pissed me off,” Kinnaman recalls. “And I felt really betrayed. And that’s exactly what David wanted me to feel… And now it’s in the movie. That’s some pretty high-level direction through manipulation.”
Suicide Squad opens everywhere Aug. 5.
“It’s not my style to walk around and think, ‘I can’t believe I won an Emmy.’ I just don’t think like that,” confesses the star of “How to Get Away With Murder.” “It’s hard to see myself the way others see me. From my perspective, I’m just Viola.”
She drew raves for her powerful acceptance speech, in which she quoted Harriet Tubman and referenced the struggles women of color have faced finding roles on screen. “Absolutely, there’s been progress,” Davis says. “It’s like the old saying: When you know better, you gotta do better. Now we know better.”
Do you think much about awards, or are they just a nice bonus?
You can place so much importance on it, and, really, at the end of the day, it has very little to do with what you do. It’s not just about the hair and the makeup and the gold statue — it’s the work. Awards stress you out. It’s beautiful, though. I’m grateful.
Did you write last year’s Emmy acceptance speech in advance?
I did not write it. But speeches — that’s my side job. I tell the young people on set that I always have something to say. I’ve been doing this for 30 years; I’ve been on this planet for 50. You give me a minute and a half, I absolutely have something to say.
Where do you keep your Emmy?
I keep it in my office upstairs — or should I say my husband keeps it in the office upstairs?
You recently signed a production deal with ABC Studios. Why do you want to expand your role behind the camera?
I think that being an actor, in terms of the business, is the least powerful position you could be in. When you see your entire career as a journey, and when, as an actor, you’re gaining power, I think that you need to do something with it. You need to be the change that you want to see. I want to be able to look back at this time, this renaissance, when you have so many different narratives out there on television, and understand that I pulled some weight in it — that I was a participant, that I was at the table, that I was active. I’m always talking about opportunity or lack thereof for people of color, so at some point I have to put my money where my mouth is. So, producing — the opportunity afforded itself to me, and I took it.
How does “How to Get Away With Murder” compare with other work in your career?
It stands high on the list. I understand that people will say, “I loved you in ‘Doubt,’ I loved you in ‘The Help,’ ” and that’s fine. But this is the only role where I can play everything. I can play the sexuality, the intelligence, the heart. To me, Annalise is alive. Annalise is fully a woman.
Which do you prefer, TV or film work?
People always say, “Don’t you feel bad leaving your movie career for TV?” And the only thing I can say is, “What movie career did I have?” I do five or eight days on a movie, I get my salary, and then it would be over and I would be on to the next [movie], doing my five days of work, and that was it. I think people have in their minds that movies are just more prestigious. I think that’s changed now.
What do your fans think of Annalise?
The response I get is usually very positive, even from people who don’t like Annalise. Even from lawyers! People come up to me now. I’m recognized more. Everyone is a critic. We all feel like we understand what the actor does and what the actor is supposed to do. Likability is the big thing, and that has absolutely nothing to do with being an actor. The foundation of acting is to create a human being, and human beings are flawed — and some are completely unlikable. By the way, what’s so interesting about likability is that I know for a fact that nobody is having this conversation with a man. No one had this conversation with James Gandolfini or Anthony Hopkins or Robert De Niro. The likability factor is not at the [forefront] of the conversation — creating a dynamic character is. We all loved Hannibal Lecter even though he was a cannibal.
What do you want to see in season three?
I loved some of the episodes this past season — just knowing more backstory on some of the characters and [going deeper, getting them] more fleshed out. That’s all I want to see.
What other shows are you rooting for this year?
This is a horrible question for me because I do not watch television. I do not have time. I’ve watched “Fixer Upper” on HGTV! I’m rooting for all the actors in “Roots” because I understand it’s fantastic. I love Sarah Paulson and Courtney Vance [in “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story”].
I updated the gallery with Blu-ray Captures from the movie ‘Beautiful Creatures’.
I started working on Viola’s projects. Today, I updated the gallery with Blu-ray Captures from the movie ‘Trust’.
Viola Davis Online > 2010 | Trust > Blu-ray Captures
I updated the gallery with Blu-ray Captures from the movie ‘Law Abiding Citizen’.