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Another Supporting Role For Viola Davis - Joins Cast Of 'The Disappearance Of Eleanor Rigby'

by Tambay A. Obenson
July 16, 2012 9:07 AM
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Despite all the critical acclaim, accolades, and several vocal pushes by the likes of Meryl Streep, Viola Davis continues to be relegated to supporting roles in films that center on stories about Caucasian characters. 

I'm glad that she formed her own production company and has seemingly taken a much more active role in her career, creating opportunities for herself (namely the 2 projects we know about that she optioned - a novel, The Personal History Of Rachel DuPree, and the Barbara Jordan story - although it's anyone's guess if/when either of these films will materialize, as we all know, money is often a hinderance; there's also the HBO project with Dee Rees).

I'm certainly glad that she's working consistently, but, as we've noted previously on this site, she deserves far more than what she's getting; to be front and center, leading and commanding. She unquestionably has the talent and the screen presence.

Ahh well...

Today's news comes from a Screen Daily exclusive which broke over the weekend, stating that the Oscar nominee has joined the cast of The Disappearance Of Eleanor Rigby, which stars Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy in a love story that explores a New York City couple's relationship during a difficult time in their marriage, from both perspectives - that of the husband (McAvoy), a restaurant owner, and of the wife (Chastain), who goes back to college.

It's supposed to be a double-project - two movies in one, telling his and hers stories.

Also in the film are William Hurt, Isabelle Huppert, Bill Hader, Ciarin Hinds, and others.

Ned Benson is directing; Cassandra Kulukundis is producing. Myriad Pictures is producing and financing, with production said to have already begun in New York.

No word on what role Viola will play in this.

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  • Nicole | July 18, 2012 9:52 AMReply

    I don't know if this has been said already(not scrolling through 62 comments to find out) but the only way Viola will get lead roles on a consistent basis is if she creates them herself. Waiting on Hollywood is like waiting on Romney to release his tax returns.

  • Oh please | July 17, 2012 7:54 PMReply

    Yell at White Hollywood but how many Black filmmakers would hire Viola for a sexy lead role. They'd hire someone looking like Halle Berry and you'll know it. Looks and age are important in D business. Black filmmakers too go for actresses w/ light skin and European features. They do it more than Whites. Indian filmmakers too. Viola knows what she's up against. Making the most she can out of it. Stop picking on her.

  • noel | July 17, 2012 6:39 PMReply

    You guys always want to believe hollywood are the enemies in reality they are not. We've seen projects viola's company is developing and there's nothing sexy about the women she wants to potrary in those projects. The enemy is within sometimes. Hollywood doesn't function to make viola or anyone either white or black a star, making money and tones of it is all they see. I agree there is racism there as in everywhere but blacks need to quite complaining all the freaking time, embrace themselves and work together. By blacks I mean black around the world because we are enough for ourselves if we embrace ourselves. My two cents.

  • CareyCarey | July 17, 2012 1:47 AMReply

    I've read all the comments and although I see a few of my favorite debators are throwing down, I don't have a dog in this fight. And really, I think many are agreeing more than disagreeing, but nobody is willing to concede a single point. So let me do my thang. First, it's unjust to compare Viola Davis's career and opportunities to ANY white actress. It's not that kind of party. First and foremost, Viola is a BLACK actress, consequently she will never get the same considerations as her white counterparts (i.e. leading roles, quality scripts written for her or with her in mind, a large contingent of friends, family and acquaintances in the industry, a unified fanbase, etc). Second, it goes without question that there are literally hundreds of white actors who have fallen out of "grace" and it had little or nothing to do with their acting prowess. In that regard, Viola is ahead of the game. Now, in reference to "quality" scripts written with black actresses in mind, Viola told the truth about the dearth of black writers who write multidimensional black characters. She took fire for standing on that claim, but it's the truth. I watch hundreds of films each year (white & black) and unfortunately, very seldom does one written and performed by black actors come anywhere near the top of what I'd consider "exceptional". Not the acting nor the writing, most pale in comparison. And if history serves us well, Viola is no different than the other championed black actresses that have gone before her. So why are people always so quick to vilify her? In my opinion, she's a great actor and she's doing just fine. Btw, she's also attractive.

  • CareyCarey | July 17, 2012 8:06 PM

    @ Rane, great insight! I never thought about the dividing of our "intellectual pie" the way you laid it out. "Art" is not the first place a person should go or would go if they are trying to advance themselves -- and feed their family -- in these ever changing time. And like the sport of boxing (if I can use an analogy) a person either has to be crazy, ill-informed or very hungry to make the decision that boxing would be their route to "success". A smart, wise and intelligent person wouldn't even consider it. And their family; those who have their best interest at heart (and may be paying for their education) would probably try to persuade them to choose a career path that is "proven" to reap great rewards. So yes, although many will give a deep side-eye to the suggestion that our greatest minds are not choosing "ART" as their primary bread winner, the proof is in the pudding and facts don't lie. Lastly, as I see it, our best minds are not involved in films (i.e, writing, filmmaking). In short Rane, I agree.

  • rane | July 17, 2012 2:24 PM

    @CareyCarey-Have to agree with everything you stated here. I think the paucity of exceptional black cinema is really down to socio-econimics and education; Blacks who have the intellect required to make exceptional, nuanced work are using their brain power outside of the arts in business, law and medicine after previous generations were denied access to those fields. You either have to be well off or crazy to be a filmmaker, a painter, sculptor etc. Being a true artist is a luxury and a sacrifice. I have a wealthy white friend whose children all studied the arts in college and I'm sure it's because with ample trust funds in place, they can afford to explore their creativity without worry. Still I live in hope that another generation of filmmakers; perhaps the children of their successful parents will have the financial ability as well as familial encouragement to make the kind of films I long to see about our journey in this world.

  • LeonRaymond | July 16, 2012 11:49 PMReply

    Somebody please do some damn research, VIOLA is sexy as a Motherfuc* , they tone down her sexuality cause they think she won't come across as such, but they do that with any dark deep sexy chocolate sistah, but she is sexy!!!! but if she goes up against Blake Lively she will loose every time as far as they are concerned. You can't tell me that Mellisa Leo is sexier than Viola, you think Ellen Burnstyn is sexier than Viola, oh wait a minute, Helen Mirren is Sexier than Viola and Helen can yawn and scripts with roles fall out of her mouth, so you tell me what we have here, I love all those actresses I named but less be fair and look at it from every angle and corner and sliver and slice. Viola should get bunches of work !!!

  • ALM | July 16, 2012 11:15 PMReply

    Why does Hollywood always tend to down play the looks of darker skinned women? Viola is stunning, and when she does layouts for magazines her beauty shines through. When she does these tv shows they have her looking like she just woke up out of bed. SMH

  • AccidentalVisitor | July 17, 2012 1:53 AM

    In all fairness you can say that about a whole lot of actors/actresses who aren't typically played up for their sexuality when on the screen. That's what photo spreads do best, make you look your best. Viola is a good-looking woman by every day standards but is she sexy by Hollywood's standards? I don't know about that. And so what? What is the shame in that? Some of you don't mind pointing out that certain black actors may not have that "it" quality when it comes to sex appeal but then want to make excuses for certain black actresses by claiming their beauty is being played down. Whatever. Like it or not Viola may not fall under that category of "sex symbol." You know neither does Meryl Streep either, but that doesn't mean audiences think any less of her. Yeah, Meryl is at least getting lead roles but we have to be honest and admit that most actresses over 40 have difficulty in getting substantial roles of any kind when they reach that age regardless of what race they are. Is it harder for black women? Of course. It is harder for anyone who isn't white. Period. But even white women bump their heads against a low ceiling that Hollywood has constructed for them. Once again if you aren't a white male your pickings are slim. Viloa is too old to even be playing the "girlfriend" role that provides most work for the younger actresses in Hollywood films. So what is she going to do? Lead roles will come her way but with 90% plus of the scripts being written by white men there won't be an abundance of starring roles tailor made for her. There should be some, just not a whole lot. And as for the continued debate over skin complexion amongst black actresses, it is obvious that Hollywood leans towards women with lighter complexions and partial European features. We see that in the casting reports on this very site time and time again. I'm not sure how much can be done to change that but maybe people within the industry will need to be more vocal about it.

  • JC | July 16, 2012 10:18 PMReply

    Get a better Agent..

  • JC | July 16, 2012 10:19 PM

    She could just say know...she isnt "forced" to do any roles...

  • roxe | July 16, 2012 9:17 PMReply

    Interesting that most of the comments are couched in what Viola Davis is "getting." She's not just "getting" supporting roles, she's taking them. If you know the playing field is not level and you decide to play by the uneven rules of the uneven-playing-field-layers, this is what receive more praise for the likes of "The Help" than for all of your previous roles combined. You are complicit in your own pigeonholing. The trajectory of her career is solely up to her; hopefully now with her production company she will create more meaningful, worthy and flattering roles for herself and other unseen, uber-talented actresses of color like her. I know that she (like all of us) wants/needs to work, but at the end of the day, the choice of what work she does is hers. And let's face it, perhaps she keeps taking the strong shoulder/hand-holder/asexual/quasi-mammy roles, because that's where her comfort zone is---no matter how reprehensible, offensive or asinine I or anyone else may think those roles are. I would never begrudge her her artistic choices, even if I don't like them. It's called freedom. (Although I also feel free to say that I think the whole idea of making "The Help" in the 21st century and the masturbatory Hollywood frenzy around it was sickening....and only happened because she and Octavia Spencer were playing maids. But I digress.) Viola Davis is a black woman who (by her own admission) balked when the Los Angeles Times Magazine reporter suggested that she do that infamously gorgeous photoshoot with her natural hair. Her initial reaction was (and I quote) "I can't do that!" which speaks volumes. If you are a person of color within Hollywood...or anywhere else in the entertainment industry, particularly a woman of color (and over 30!), you need an inordinate amount of strength, resilience, pride and a titanium sense of self just to persevere, let alone thrive. My hope is to see her embrace grander roles that are worthy of her immense talent; maybe now she's gotten the drift that she'll have to create those roles. Just do it already! It's not fair, but it's the way it is and it's damn sure better than the alternative. Plenty of others have done it (2 examples off the top: "Frida"/S. Hayek and "The Dorothy Dandridge Story"/H. Berry) and it is exceedingly clear that Viola Davis will never portray anything other than an emotional backdrop in white characters' narratives if Hollywood has its druthers.

  • Orville | July 17, 2012 1:01 AM

    @ Roxe I agree that it is obviously harder for black women over the age of forty to get quality film roles. However, I don't think it is as easy as you make it sound. I am sure Viola Davis would love to have grander roles the question is will the gatekeepers offer her these roles? Someone mentioned Halle Berry she's supposed to be black queen of Hollywood yet she hasn't been in a hit movie in almost a decade. Berry's career is in the toilet because even she is struggling to get good roles. Halle's last crap film was the shark movie straight to DVD dark tide.

    So if an Academy award winning actress can't even get good roles due to her age and race it just shows how hard black women of a certain age got it in Hollywood.

    anyone can have a production company the question is does Viola Davis have the money and the power to finance her projects? It all comes down to money. If Viola Davis can get financing then her Barbara Jordan project might work. I don't know if Viola wants the Barbara Jordan project to be a television movie or a theatrical release?

  • Penelope | July 16, 2012 6:02 PMReply

    Nikki, Blutopaz just likes to argue with everyone for no reason at all.

  • BluTopaz | July 16, 2012 11:16 PM

    Another e-punk, lol

  • lauren | July 16, 2012 4:47 PMReply

    As an actress, age and looks are always going to be factor. This is show biz and although she is a remarkable actress, talent doesn't make you a "star". I'm interested that she's going to develop her own projects but doing a Barbra Jordan biopic isn't going to change her trajectory.

  • Orville | July 17, 2012 1:06 AM

    @ Joe ugly white women like Julia Roberts get to be a leading lady. Edie Falco is unattractive yet she's won awards and she's in Viola's age range. Viola Davis is an attractive woman she's just not light skinned like Halle Berry. Hollywood seems to have a predilection for a "black" leading lady to be half white or mixed race. Before Halle Berry the media were obsessed with Vanessa Williams. Now the media are obsessed with Zoe Saldana and Beyonce. Even though Beyonce who isn't much of an actress but her mother is Creole and she is mixed whether people want to believe it or not.

  • Lauren | July 16, 2012 6:19 PM

    @Joe--Kerry Washington, no matter what your tastes are IS almost 20 years younger. And I'm not in Viola's way for doing any role she wants to do. I merely stated that playing Barbra Jordan isn't going to change how she's perceived. Unfortunately, for females, whether it's film or the music biz, the star machine is based on looks... Where are John C. Rielly's or Don Cheadle's visual female counterparts? Lil Wayne's? I could go on...

  • Joe | July 16, 2012 5:38 PM

    Is Kerry Washington really THAT pretty? I mean can you really say that her doing the Barbara Jordan biopic wouldn't have an impact for not just her but other actresses.

    The only black actress that has "white approved" star beauty and quality is HALLE BERRY. Since then, there have been hopefuls like Kerry and Zoe, but no one has been able to come close to Halle in looks, body, and sex appeal.

    If Viola wants to carve her own lane please let her and not compare her with the people only focused on "looks".

  • Orville | July 16, 2012 4:17 PMReply

    I think people have a right to be upset Viola's already done supporting shit like in Eat Pray Love she was the friend of Julia Roberts. Also, the white female counterparts in Viola's age group are still getting LEAD ROLES. Don't tell me that Edie Falco, or Julia Roberts or Sandra Bullock are better actresses than Viola Davis because they are not!

    It sucks that Viola doesn't get her shine! But on the other hand Viola needs to work to make money she's not getting any younger. So I figure Viola feels she's got to strike the iron while it is hot and just work, work, and do more work. But it must be frustrating for Viola that she can't be the star the female lead in her movies. She's got the talent it would be nice to see Viola really get a good role she can sink her teeth into. I actually would love to see Viola in a romantic comedy.

  • noel | July 17, 2012 7:39 PM

    If you had €2m to make a romantic comedy would you cast ms. davis as lead?

  • Nikki | July 16, 2012 3:47 PMReply

    Most of the White women named (with the exception of maybe 3) mostly do supporting work. They certainly don't get as many roles offered as the Younger White Actresses or Male Counterparts. For Salma, If you mean more High Profile roles as in animated movies than sure. She only had a supporting role in the mixed "Savages" So I definitely wouldn't count her as doing better than Viola. lol

  • BluTopaz | July 18, 2012 7:40 AM

    Actually i take that back re: your Fargo comment, I re-read it and now understand what you were trying to say re: how it's popularity became widespread. However out of all the movies I listed (after your request), you zeroing in on one indie film and the career trajectory if its leading lady character actress-lol; says volumes about how insubstantial your counterpoint appears. Once again, no one is bullying Viola. She has not had the same career as her White counterparts, period. Listen to her Oscar roundtable interview again, and she'll spell out for you the difficulties Black actresses face in Hollywood re: obtaining leading roles.

  • BluTopaz | July 18, 2012 7:30 AM

    So now you also want to exclude non-studio films, because you still cannot accept Viola's career not taking off in the same manner as her White counterparts. "Most of the "ELEVEN studio films in post, recently completed or currently filming" for Melissa Leo are NOT studio films,"-Even if it matters whether or not they are studio vs. indie, how do you know Leo's films are not studio? Do you think Viola or any great seasoned actor would turn away a great lead role in an indie? Independent films still have that "cool, artsy cache" about them and established actors usually accept these roles to hone their craft rather than for big bucks, so now disregarding a non-studio film is you grasping at straws. And re: your continued assertion that these White women have always been leading ladies (not true), then you should note White character actresses and compare their work to Viola's. I am well aware of the difference between leading lady vs. character type, and usually for women of any color the character label is stuck when you start to become well known at middle aged. ALL of the women I listed began in their twenties (as did Viola), and they did NOT begin their careers leading films and tv work. She has won TWO TONYS for leading roles, why pigeonhole her as a character actress anyway? I'm sure she would love a leading lady role in a good film that utilizes her talents well, if given the opportunity. "Fargo was an indie. An indie that went on to great acclaim and got picked up for distribution AFTER it won at major film festivals; that's why you've heard of it"
    LOL! Now you are really making stuff up, because I was referring to "FREEDOMLAND" in my post, not Fargo. Maybe you should learn the difference between reality and what you want to believe.

  • Akimbo | July 17, 2012 9:01 PM

    Most of the "ELEVEN studio films in post, recently completed or currently filming" for Melissa Leo are NOT studio films, Robin Wright was always a "leading lady," Cate Blanchett "leading lady," Naomi Watts "leading lady." It's not whether someone broke through in a supporting or lead role; there is a "leading lady type" and there's a "character type" you still don't know the difference and obviously don't care to. There's no point in arguing anymore. All I'm saying is that race is not the only reason Viola's doing mostly supporting roles. If you can't wrap your mind around that, oh well. And yes, Fargo was an indie. An indie that went on to great acclaim and got picked up for distribution AFTER it won at major film festivals; that's why you've heard of it. Had it been a studio movie (not that any studio would have ever made this movie) McDormand would have never had a shot at the role. So maybe learn the difference between studio and independent films.

  • BluTopaz | July 17, 2012 8:34 PM

    Sorry, you are still being delusional. First, you wanted to change the convo to only lead roles-check. Second you wanted to only focus on White actresses who are not merely sex symbols-check. So now you don't want to quantify ACTUAL studio films as such, and the films I named those actresses were DEFINITELY lead roles, as much as you want to deny it. You can do the homework and check the studios for those films, what now Forrest Gump, King King, Fargo, etc are small indies film no one has heard of? lol. And yes, some of them are at least a decade which proves my point once again: these actresses received their breakthrough years before Viola. And they did not begin as leading ladies.

  • Akimbo | July 17, 2012 7:55 PM

    Sorry, mission not accomplished: bringing in leading ladies, throwing out 25 year old movies, calling any movie on IMDb a "studio movie," and just listing projects without being able to say if someone's a lead...Just no. I reiterate that I agree that Viola deserves more, but againagainagain, ethnicity aside, she's a middle-aged character actress; the game is different. Now we can talk Regina Hall (should have had a bigger comedy/rom-com career), Gina Torres (total Angelina Jolie/ action heroine type), Garcelle Beauvais, Angela Bassett, Tracey Ellis Ross (hi black Sarah Jessica Parker), Jill Marie Jones, Kellita Smith, Sanaa Lathan, Nia Long, Vanessa L Williams and other black actual "leading lady types," and complain about how they have been relegated to the sidelines throughout their careers, but it's not the same for Viola.

  • BluTopaz | July 17, 2012 7:01 PM

    @ AKIMBO:

    "...and not those of A-list "conventionally" attractive actresses who have been names for 20+ years. "

    So now you are saying pretty White actresses compared to Viola are apples vs. oranges as well-lol. The only actresses I named who are primarily sex symbols are Salma and Sofia, everyone else has been character actresses at one point, most worked their way up to leading ladies. And it's not IMBD skills, just Google and taking off the rose colored glasses:

    VIOLA DAVIS: Her IMBD credits list her as beginning her career in the mid 1980's, her lead studio role was 2011's The Help. She currently has 3 films in post or filming, IMBD does not indicate if they are leads.
    JULIANNE MOORE: Also began in the mid-1980's, LEAD roles in City of Men, The Kids are Alright, Blindness, Hannibal, Boogie Nights, Freedomland (no I never heard of it either, still a studio lead role that you've requested), among others. Seven films in post, recently completed or filming.
    NAOMI WATTS: Conventionally pretty and still gets substantial leads, imagine that: In the biz since mid 1980's, LEAD roles in The Ring 1 & 2, King Kong, 21 Grams, Princess Diana, Queen of the Desert (currently filming), Funny Games, etc. Seven films in post or filming.
    FRANCES MCDORMAND since you want to zero in on non-conventionally attractive actresses: In the biz since 1980's LEAD roles in Fargo, City by the Sea, Laurel Canyon, etc. One film currently filming.
    CATE BLANCHETT: In the biz since 1980's, LEAD roles: The Talented Mr. Ripley, Babel, Elizabeth, etc. Seven films post or currently filming.
    ROBIN WRIGHT PENN: Unless you want to disqualify her because of any perceived industry from her ex-husband: LEAD roles: Princess Bride, Forrest Gump, Moll Flanders, leading lady in Unbreakable, Sorry Haters (odd film, very good) etc
    MELISSA LEO: Ya'll keep harping on her: Maybe she wasn't the lead in The Fighter, but that supporting role sure seems to have catapulted her career. She also began in the mid-1980's, and she has ELEVEN studio films in post, recently completed or currently filming. IMBD does not list if they are leads or not. Her LEAD roles I could find and have seen is Red State, and of course the upcoming comedy Why Stop Now.

    Should I continue, or do you want me to only list White actresses who have never been considered attractive? That would be tough, because guess what-H'wood rarely likes to promote White women who don't fit the ideal beauty standard. This is another obstacle Viola and all other Black actresses face, and I'm sure she would be the first to tell you.
    And I will reiterate, your assertion that Viola is late to the game does not hold water here. The handful of actresses I noted here started at the same time as Viola, and achieved their breakout roles at least a decade ago. And they were not playing maids. No, this is not Viola's fault of course. But once again, she's been in the game for about the same amount of time as most of the White actresses I noted, and has not achieved anywhere near the same amount of success.

  • Oh please | July 17, 2012 7:57 AM

    Blutopaz, I would love for you to compare the credits of other character actresses-turned-stars to Viola's and not those of A-list "conventionally" attractive actresses who have been names for 20+ years. I'd also love for you to compare movie roles to movie roles and TV ones to TV ones. Prove that all of those middle-aged actresses are CURRENTLY headlining studio films.

    Amen. Compare apples to apples. What big movie is Melissa Leo getting leading roles in. Who considers her a sex symbol? Tell what movie Edie Falco is leading. Halle Berry can make a million stinkers but will get paid for a sexy role in New Years Eve. Jennifer Aniston is not a good actresses but seen as sex symbol, her movies make good money, fans who like her from Friends or feel sorry Brad Pitt cheated on her go watch her movies. Jodie Foster been in D business since she was child. Viola Davis closer to Melissa Leo than to Aniston, Berry or Foster.

  • Akimbo | July 17, 2012 12:21 AM

    Blutopaz, I would love for you to compare the credits of other character actresses-turned-stars to Viola's and not those of A-list "conventionally" attractive actresses who have been names for 20+ years. I'd also love for you to compare movie roles to movie roles and TV ones to TV ones. Prove that all of those middle-aged actresses are CURRENTLY headlining studio films. School me with your mad IMDb skillz! Can't wait.

  • BluTopaz | July 16, 2012 11:19 PM

    @ AKIMBO: Do I really need to list the IMBD credits for these A list actresses side by side with Viola's star turn in The Help? -lol

  • BluTopaz | July 16, 2012 11:16 PM

    @ Nikki--no I read it correctly the first time. Your assertion that younger actresses get more work was your entire point--when that is not even the question regarding the convo. And your comment about most of the White actresses named doing primarily supporting work is incorrect as well. They are the typical leading ladies in these films, which Salma has been as well in the beginning of her career.

  • Nikki | July 16, 2012 5:57 PM

    So my question is why did you reply to me? I'm not disputing that White Women get more roles in general. Maybe you should read my comment again.

  • BluTopaz | July 16, 2012 5:28 PM

    @ Nikki: "What I'm saying is that Age plays a factor with ANYONE."

    No kidding. If you were paying attention, you would notice that I only listed middle aged White actresses for this very reason.

  • Akimbo | July 16, 2012 5:27 PM

    The only character actress you named among the bunch is Toni Collette whose breakout role was that of a beleaguered mother in "The Sixth Sense" and most prominent leading role in a film was the ensemble "Little Miss Sunshine." I could definitely compare those to Doubt and The Help. And we don't see Toni headlining a lot of movies. Could compare Viola's role in "The Help" to Kathy Bates' "Misery," too. Those are realistic comparisons. With the names you're throwing out, might as well try to stack Viola up against Mila Kunis; that's not how it works.

  • Nikki | July 16, 2012 5:24 PM

    I'm not disputing the fact that White actresses gets more roles. I never said they didn't. What I'm saying is that Age plays a factor with ANYONE. As for Salma her FILM career isn't that great right now.

    "Keep fooling yourself if you think Viola carries the same cache as say, Cate Blanchett--hell even Naomi Watts was just cast as Princess Di and far as I know her resume does not include stage and television."

    Again I didn't say this, you should reply to the person who said this.

    " All of the White actresses I named have been the lead in either an indie or mainstream film or television show."

    I'm sure at some point they did ( technically you could say that to about any actress whether the film was successful or not is a different story altogether).

    It doesn't matter whether you are White or Black Age Matters, unless you are Meryl Streep/Nicole Kidman/Cate Blanchett. Obviously Black women don't get as many substantial roles as White women in general. No one is debating that.

  • BluTopaz | July 16, 2012 5:01 PM

    Then name other movies where Viola has played the lead, in comparison with the White actresses I named.

  • Akimbo | July 16, 2012 4:58 PM

    Again, comparing apples and oranges. Julianne Moore was a lead in Kids, Viola was supporting in Extremely Loud. Again, I also want more for Viola but...this argument is incredibly flawed.

  • BluTopaz | July 16, 2012 4:12 PM

    "If you mean more High Profile roles as in animated movies than sure."

    Salma's bank account (except for her rich husband) is probably doing better than Viola's for that fact alone.

    All of the White actresses I named have been the lead in either an indie or mainstream film or television show. And of course younger actresses get more work, no one is disputing that. And, there is a difference between supporting role and a peripheral character. Do you think Viola's work in say, Incredibly Loud and Extremely Close is viewed as the same prominence as Julianne Moore's in The Kids are Alright? White child actors are given more substantial parts in movies than most Black actresses. Keep fooling yourself if you think Viola carries the same cache as say, Cate Blanchett--hell even Naomi Watts was just cast as Princess Di and far as I know her resume does not include stage and television.

  • BluTopaz | July 16, 2012 3:24 PMReply

    Many people are saying Viola should be getting the same consideration as her counterparts, that's not shitting on her. I mentioned film AND television actresses for a reason, since tv has become very profitable for actors as well. Salma may not be a lead, but she gets more high profile parts than Viola. What about JLo, how many times has her acting been panned but she stays getting leads, vs. Viola's seasoned stage, tv and film career? And most actors have slumps in their careers, it hasn't stopped Sigourney from being the LEAD in a tv political drama, Toni Collette, Edie Falco, Glenn Close and Laura Linney from getting LEADS in highly acclaimed recent or current cable tv shows as well. Melissa Leo has publicly lamented the fate of older actresses, and she has still worked more consistently than Viola. Other than a few Law & Order episodes, i can't even place where Viola has worked prior to The Help and her recent stage work. And oh yes, the 5 minute crying scene in Doubt, how could i forget.

    What do we have for leads for tv (let's not even discuss the moot issue of film and Black actresses at this point)--Kerry Washington, Regina King (which is more of an ensemble type casting)....anyone else? Jada and that nurse show no one watched, can't think of another one right now. It's not an attack on Viola so slow your roll. It's more of an indictment of the industry than anything else-. It makes no sense that Fiddy gets more acting work than Angela Bassett. And in all honesty I'm not upset for Viola. She's getting and creating her own work, and her "Black filmmakers/audiences are holding the Black artist back" comments made me see her differently. But she'll be aight, it looks like she has the strong, silent Black woman casting on lock.

  • Akimbo | July 17, 2012 5:48 PM

    You're not comparing her to the actresses I listed because you don't seem to understand what a character actress is and that Viola is one. That's fine.

  • BluTopaz | July 17, 2012 5:38 PM

    I am not comparing her to these other actresses, I'm saying she does not get the same opportunities for various types of roles. You are stuck on the White actresses supporting roles, they are still more high profile and more substantial than Viola's LEAD role in The Help. "All that is to say that I'm not mad when I see Viola playing a supporting role in a big movie on a racial level because that's just how the industry works for actors across the board. " Not for White actresses it doesn't-you seem to have a problem admitting that.

  • Akimbo | July 17, 2012 12:42 AM

    I don't think Viola has the same opportunities as her white counterparts, but I'm also not fooling myself. She is a black actress, she is a character actress, do why on earth are you trying to compare her to sexpot Hayek and fluffy types like Aniston & Roberts? She can never have their careers. Neither can Toni Collette, Allison Janney, Amy Ryan, Samantha Morton, Tilda Swinton, Joan Allen, Tilda Swinton, and Viola's paler (actual) peers. These are great actresses who play leads in indies and sometimes on TV, but who play supporting roles in studio/high-profile films. All that is to say that I'm not mad when I see Viola playing a supporting role in a big movie on a racial level because that's just how the industry works for actors across the board. I'm gonna wanna see her in a wider range of roles and definitely headlining Oscar bait, but I'm not going to be mad or surprised when she doesn't get the female lead in Transformers 13.

  • BluTopaz | July 16, 2012 11:10 PM

    "Every time I respond to you, you try to make it more and more specific, but to what end?"
    Why would I not be specific if we are talking about one specific actress? Your problem is that you want to defend Viola so badly, that you are overlooking the fact that her career has NOT been as prolific nor as varied as the White actresses in her age group. Simple as that, and you are offended because you want to say people are shitting on her choices. Well they are just that, her choices. And until I read about a White actress struggling with an ethnic role the way Viola has publicly lamented her almost 2 decades career culminating in her breakout role playing a maid, then your counter point is mere rhetoric. "What does it have to do with anything? " Ask Viola that question, she has also noted publicly that how tough it is SPECIFICALLY for Black actresses, and that they face certain obstacles. I know you want to defend her, but pretending she has had the same level of opportunities of varied roles as White middle aged actresses is putting blinders on. Especially when she herself would disagree with you.

  • Akimbo | July 16, 2012 5:45 PM

    "I seriously doubt either of those White actresses have done any handwringing about playing RACIALLY stereotypical characters." One, you don't know that's true and two, so what? Every time I respond to you, you try to make it more and more specific, but to what end? I don't doubt that an actress has worried about how stereotypical a Jewish, Italian, or other culturally specific character or even if a role was a typically underdeveloped female character. I just don't get the point of pointing out that Viola struggled over taking the role; lots of actors have. What does it have to do with anything? Again, yes black actors have it harder but none of that requires us to preemptively shit on her upcoming projects. Not every character actor (of any ethnicity) crosses over to full on leading man or woman and I find that people here are overly and unnecessarily harsh on this supremely talented actor. I just hope she continues to turn out great work.

  • BluTopaz | July 16, 2012 5:22 PM

    Listen again to Viola's interview where she talked about praying and being upset about choosing her role in The Help. I know there are often concerns about actors taking on roles, but I'll tell you what-- I seriously doubt either of those White actresses have done any handwringing about playing RACIALLY stereotypical characters. Do you think Cate Blanchett agonized over playing Queen Elizabeth? Marisa Tomei's one concern about The Wrestler was that she was afraid her boobs were too small to realistically portray a stripper. She is nude quite often in her films, and she is over 40 as well. Doesn't seem to bother her too much. I'm providing a specific, known example of one actor's anguish--not perceived hesitations that are not based on the same racial criteria Viola has had to contend with. Her performance as a crooked cop on L&O CI made me notice her; that was at least 5 or 6 years ago and she hasn't had a role like that since. And yeah, do you think Viola prefers that "type" that carries so much racial baggage? I'm guessing she does not, and would like the same opportunities given to White actresses. There is no way anyone can realistically claim she is given the same chances to work as any one of the White actresses I noted. Maybe her next part in Won't Back Down might be a little different for her, but even in the trailer she looks like she's playing second fiddle to Maggie Gylenhall (sp), who of course also gets a love interest.

  • Akimbo | July 16, 2012 4:54 PM

    ...Part of being a character is that you're a "type." That's Viola's type and we'll see if she breaks out of it. I'm not complaining about it because her rough, "stoic" act on Criminal Intent is what made me a fan. I'd seen her in "Two Trains Running" before then and hadn't been particularly moved. As for whether other actors agonize over taking roles, they do; all the time. "I'm too young to play the mom," "I'm not sexy enough for this part," "I don't want to play an alien," "[insert whatever] is against my religion," "do I really want to do a movie with HIM," "audiences don't want to see me in this role," so on so forth. There are a litany of questions and concerns actors voice when taking or turning down a role. She was not the first or even the only actor waffling on that particular day. It's the business.

  • BluTopaz | July 16, 2012 3:57 PM

    Well I guess that depends on what the actor themselves would prefer--one movie per year (or every other year) or the steady work of an acclaimed tv series. And Viola's two most prominent movie roles thus far have been the long suffering, stoic woman, whether you like that fact or not. Maybe her new projects will break her out of that box, but right now THAT is what she is known for. Even she noted her struggles with accepting the part in The Help. I doubt any of the other actresses I mentioned struggled with taking on the opportunities offered to them.

  • Akimbo | July 16, 2012 3:45 PM

    I know she's still not getting her due, but a supporting role and " the White woman's hand holder and strong shoulder to cry on, of course" are not the same thing. One of those things certainly sounds like shitting and that's really what I take issue with. And you can't compare movies and TV, when Viola is only doing MOVIES right now. All those women are now leads on TV and still supporting in movies.

  • Oh please | July 16, 2012 11:51 AMReply

    She can always sign up for a Tyler Perry movie. Will have a Black cross dressing hand to hold instead. You act like White women Viola's age who don't look like supermodels have lead roles coming out of ears. Unless you are Meryl Streep once you hit a certain age they give you only supporting roles.

  • noel | July 17, 2012 6:52 PM

    @ALM, Hollywood may be subduing her looks but am pretty sure she also don't have a knife in her throat whilst she signs onto those 'subduing looks' contract. She accepts them just as she rejects the crack addicts roles black film makers send to her ain't it?

  • ALM | July 16, 2012 11:30 PM

    @Black Police: Viola is sexy. The issue is that Hollywood subdues her look for the camera. You need to look at this photo shoot. If this isn't sexy, then I don't know what is:

  • Joe | July 16, 2012 5:44 PM



    Kerry Washington isn't matter how many magazine shoots she does.. you can't pay me to believe she is sexy.. her shape is not cute..

    Viola has a great figure and many men love black women like her!!!

  • Oh please | July 16, 2012 4:53 PM

    Sandra Bullock, Jennifer Aniston, Cate Blanchett, Glenn Close, Annette Bening, Juliane Moore, Helen Mirren, Nicole Kidman, Sara Jessica Parker, Julia Roberts, Jodie Foster, Michelle Pfeiffer, Sigourney Weaver.

    All women who have been in D business 4 a long time. Lead roles when younger built up fans, got industry support, form their own production companies. Jodie Foster been acting since she a little child. Didn't just get roles through at feet from no where.

    If Viola Davis had the looks, body, age of Kerry Washington she will get more lead roles. Look at Halle Berry. Half the actress of Viola but more leading roles cause she is beautiful. That's D bottom line. Viola is late to the movie game, she's no longer spring chicken and is not a sex symbol.

  • THE BLACK POLICE | July 16, 2012 2:16 PM

    Problem is: Viola Davis is not sexy.

  • Akimbo | July 16, 2012 2:14 PM

    No one saying it's a level playing field; only white men get to work as leads until they croak. With the exception of Sandra Bullock and Jennifer Aniston (unless you count Horrible Bosses), all the white women you've named have also worked in supporting roles recently or barely do a movie a year. On top of that, many of them have had noticeable slumps in their careers. And I'm sorry, did you even know Melissa Leo's NAME before the Fighter? Regardless, since her Oscar win, she too is still doing supporting roles. Sofia Vergara is not a movie star, Salma Hayek is rarely a lead. I'm sick of people shitting on Viola Davis. She is a character actress trying to break out of that mold (a la William H Macy) and she can't even sneeze without people complaining about it. It's ridiculous.

  • BluTopaz | July 16, 2012 1:44 PM

    Sandra Bullock, Melissa Leo, Jennifer Aniston, Cate Blanchett, Glenn Close, Annette Bening, Juliane Moore, Helen Mirren, Nicole Kidman, Toni Collette, Sara Jessica Parker, Julia Roberts, Jodie Foster, Michelle Pfeiffer, Sigourney freaking Weaver, list goes on and on. Maybe they don't get the same meaty roles as their male counterparts. But neither of these middle aged White actresses are relegated to the same water carrier roles Viola is subjected to, and I won't even bother to list all the film and tv roles many of these women are leading with their star power. Hell even JLo can put away her boriqua accent and get how many leading roles now, about 10 in one sucky rom-com after another? Salma Hayek never even had to lose her Mexican accent, it's part of her charm and her over 40 status hasn't slowed down her sex appeal and movie star attraction. Ask Sofia Vergara about that, too.
    Anyone who thinks it's a level playing field for Black actresses is either delusional or not playing attention.

  • Akimbo | July 16, 2012 1:00 PM

    POW. Thank you. It's one thing to bitch and moan all the time, but at least wait until you have something to bitch and moan about!

  • julieB | July 16, 2012 9:57 AMReply

    who cares what role she's playing! she said herself that there was a time where she didn't work for 9 months. The only job she did get was in a terrible Tyler Perry film. The woman is making more money this year than she's ever made, leave her alone! Samuel L Jackson, is rarely ever in a lead role, where's the criticizing article about him and his career?

  • Nikki | July 16, 2012 9:57 AMReply

    I definitely agree that she needs better roles, but you also have to look at her age.

  • Joe | July 16, 2012 5:42 PM

    She looks great for her age:)

  • BluTopaz | July 16, 2012 9:44 AMReply

    "No word on what role Viola will play in this."

    She will be the White woman's hand holder and strong shoulder to cry on, of course.

  • Joe | July 16, 2012 5:40 PM

    She did a movie with Jessica called The Help so clearly they have a professional relationship AND they are both Juilliard grads..please have many seats and at least wait till the film comes out if you are going to spew garbage

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