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Guess What Viola Davis' Favorite Role Is? (A Hint: It's NOT From "The Help" Nor "Doubt")

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by Tambay A. Obenson
January 19, 2012 2:32 PM
12 Comments
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Hah! Gotta love it! 

One thing I think we champion here on S&A is black actors being fearless and taking some chances/risks in selecting the roles they play on screen (on stage, and elsewhere); ignoring the so-called "burden of representation" and running with a part that might be considered controversial, and that will likely face fierce criticism from masses within the *black community* who may look down on role as one that depicts a black person (or people) in a less than flattering, if downright negative light.

Recall Sergio's post a few months ago on Viola Davis' *serial killer* role in one 2002 episode of Law & Order: CI? In that post, Sergio praised Viola Davis for her willingness to step outside the expected and take the role, knowing how it might be received by some of us. 

Fast-forward to today, and I finally got around to watching the full hour-long Hollywood Reporter award season roundtable discussion with actresses of the moment (including Viola, Octavia Spencer, Charlize Theron, Michelle Williams, Glenn Close and Carey Mulligan); I got to around the 29:30 mark as Viola talked about her having to adapt to the character she plays in The Help, and the quietness/internal nature of that character, as opposed to... she then slips into discussion of one of the favorite roles she's ever played, and guess what it is?

The serial killer in that 2002 episode of Law & Order: CI! Fancy that! :)

Just watch the video as she relishes the memory of playing a character that was unlike anything she'd ever been offered before; and then watch her expression dampen seconds later, when asked why it wasn't well-received... I could feel her *burden* in that short moment. It was written all over her face, as they say.

As I've said about Viola more than once, for all her ability, Viola Davis isn’t meant to play subdued, subservient, "quiet" roles. Besides, she's done enough of that already. Her presence demands she be out, front and center, bold, brash, dangerous and leading; not meek and cowering. And I hope she's now in a better position to really attract some really bold, imaginative work.

Watch the hour-long video below, or skip to around the 29:30 mark for the piece I referenced here:

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12 Comments

  • lovesfilmnmusic | January 20, 2012 7:34 PMReply

    Thanx KeepingitReal for the heads up. I DVR'd it.

  • HarveyDent | January 20, 2012 4:58 PMReply

    "You're not frugal!" When Ms. Davis put that on Goren I was rolling. Seeing her in that role shows what a good actress/actor can do with some meat.

  • Johnson | January 19, 2012 11:47 PMReply

    Oh yeah, she was a security guard killing for her kids and bullying drug dealers....It was OFF THE CHAIN!!!! She & Goren were dancing!!!!

    Octavia is overing saying "AAAAAMMEN SISTA!!!!" with her eyes while Viola is dropping the real.....*Lifts her glass in the air*

  • Laura | January 19, 2012 7:39 PMReply

    I think I said this before. Viola Davis is an action herione in the vain of Jason Bourne in the contemporary Bourne series. Complexed, conflicted and an explosion of physical energy. I can also see her as the Helena Cain character, captain of the Pegasus ship, in the re-imaged Battlestar Galactica. Viola Davis has such intensity and physicality. I could see her in so many roles. But alas, it is Hollywood and you know that goes.

  • Johnson | January 19, 2012 11:38 PM

    Laura girl, you preaching right there!!!!

  • Akimbo | January 19, 2012 7:12 PMReply

    I loveLOVED her in that role. I totally thought that she should have been Goren's nemesis instead of that obnoxious Nicole woman. Viola played the one perp who could see through Goren's play-acting and easily broke him down/figured out who he really was. It was amazing.

  • BluTopaz | January 19, 2012 6:30 PMReply

    I saw that Law & Order episode a few years back. Her character was one of the few on that show who sparred well with lead D'Onofrio. It's the kind of threatening role usually for male characters and Viola played it so well. I can't watch her bowing and scraping in a Lifetime revisionist fantasy, but I sincerely hope her career takes off now.

  • L. Michael Gipson | January 19, 2012 6:26 PMReply

    Thanks for sharing this. I LOVED this conversation and the differences that Viola and Octavia experienced even in terms of future expectations and past unfulfilled desires were so stark from the white actresses. I appreciated the unflinching candor, without real complaint, but an all to open longing for the privileges the other ladies on that stage can take for granted.

  • Jug | January 19, 2012 3:47 PMReply

    You know why she did it, because she's an actress, for starters, it was fun & different, & she GOT PAID! LOL I ain't mad, she hit the trifecta. On a side note, I think that's a big reason more Black actors don't do well (actors in general for that matter). Always worried about what someone is going to say, burden of representation, whatever whatever. OR they do what they feel and are, surprise surprise, shunned by the populace at large. It's hard, but the journey of an actor on a whole, is to thine own self be true. As much as you can, for as long as you can. But balancing that with real world expectations & politics is difficult indeed.

  • KEEPINGITREAL | January 19, 2012 3:29 PMReply

    @Tambay @ Serigio IT COMES ON AT 6:00 PM ON OXYGEN TONIGHT, THEN AGAIN AT 12:00 AM THE EPISODE IS TITLED "BADGE"

  • Jennifer | January 19, 2012 3:01 PMReply

    Actually, I liked her in the tv adaptation of 'The Andromeda Strain' . She played a doctor who is feeling the stress of the imminent release of a deadly virus. It was an okey-doke movie, but I really liked her complex portrayal.

  • Johnson | January 19, 2012 11:43 PM

    I agree....

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