Viola Davis’ performance on the critically acclaimed ABC drama How To Get Away With Murder won over fans, especially after the powerful scene featuring her character Annalise taking off her makeup and wig in the show’s fourth episode.
In a conversation with Academy voters at the For Your Consideration panel last weekend, Davis says she wouldn’t have done the show if she wasn’t able to perform the pivotal scene.
The stunning actress explained to the group of voters her reasoning for taking on the role, which came from a desire to play someone who was not only layered with emotion, but someone she’s never had the opportunity to play.
“When someone is described as sexual and mysterious and complicated and messy, you don’t think of me,” she said on Saturday. “I thought it was a really great opportunity to do something different, to transform into a character that people weren’t used to seeing me in. I wanted a role to reflect the full scope of my talent, and I was tired of being the third girl from the left, feeling like I was jumping up behind Meryl Streep or a Julianne Moore, saying, ‘I’ve been doing this for 12 years, I’m playing a maid, I’ve got two lines.'”
Before taking on the role of the relentless Annalise, Davis says she sat down with the show’s creator Shonda Rhimes and showrunners Betsy Beers and Pete Nowlak to demand that she take her makeup and wig off on camera.
“Before I got the role, I said, ‘Shonda, Pete, Betsy, I’m not gonna do this unless I can take my wig off.’ It’s like Rosalind Russell said, acting is like stripping naked in front of an audience and turning around really slowly. One of the reasons I stopped watching TV was that I didn’t see myself on TV. I’m not just saying as a woman of color or a woman of 49, but just as a person. I see a lot of sexy women who are hard, cold, look like they have windswept hair and lip gloss and light makeup when they say it’s no makeup.”
After studying the character, Davis says she knew Annalise had to be seen as someone other than her fiery persona. Her choice was also spiritual in a way, because she knew the moment was bigger than herself.
“I know it seems like a very simple act at the end of the day — but for me, that simple act really surmounted to something very powerful in the end, because what it was was someone being very, very private in public, which is absolutely the cornerstone of what we do as artists. I didn’t just want to walk in heels like I was a supermodel. Who does that? That was how that scene came about. I didn’t want to wake up in bed thinking that this is how I really look. I wanted to woman up, and I wanted to actor up, too.”
If you’ve never seen Annalise bare it all in the very vulnerable moment, check out the clip above.
SOURCE: Vulture | VIDEO CREDIT: YouTube
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