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Viola Davis: "We're sacrificing ourselves"

TIME TO SHINE: Viola Davis on-set whilst filming Fences

SITTING DOWN with Oscar-nominated (not to mention Golden Globe, Emmy and Tony winning to boot) Viola Davis on a rainy Sunday, the plush hotel and the appealing plate of luxury biscuits pale in comparison to the sight of the self-assured actor who oozes grown-woman gorgeousness with a distinctive New England twang.

In town to promote Fences, Davis is polished yet relaxed as we begin by speaking about her 2010 Tony award for her first portrayal of Rose Maxon in the original theatre version of Fences and what had to be done differently to bring Rose from stage to screen:

“I just to make it more intimate, make it more honest, make it more true and not beat anyone over the head with the character.

“I didn’t want people to be introduced, from the moment she comes on the scene, to a woman who was angry, in pain and somehow suffering…I wanted them to be introduced to a woman who was making her life work .”

In the movie adaptation, we see Rose who is married to failed baseball player Troy (played by Denzel Washington) hold down her family and her home, welcoming family and friends, diffusing arguments, preparing meals like clockwork and generally papering Troy’s many drink-fuelled cracks with an easy grace. Although Davis and Washington’s characters raised their family in the 1950s, Davis is adamant that woman and black women in particular, can relate to Rose today just as much as they would have been able to decades ago:


TIME TO REFLECT: Viola Davis as Rose Maxon in 'Fences'

“…people are responding to the character.

“I think by the time she says, ‘I've been standing with you, I’ve been right here with you Troy’, I think a lot of women start to relate to that because we sacrifice a lot emotionally and the first thing we sacrifice - the number one thing we sacrifice is ourselves, y’know?

“I think it’s like a call to arms, almost.”

Addressing the polarising choices that Rose made during turbulent times, Davis says:

“I’m an actor so I have a different reaction that most people do, because we have to be more self-aware as actors and I think most people that come into the audience have a filtered-down version of what choices are; because in fact there are many women working today who are raising other people’s children.

“There are many women today who are with men who are abusive and more abusive than even Troy - they are physically abusive.

“There are many choices that we make. I never judged it, what I did do is think that Rose’s choices made her a liberated woman.


SCREEN STARS: Viola Davis with Denzel Washington who plays her husband in Fences

“She also does one thing that makes her absolutely a liberated woman - she holds herself accountable to the downfall of her marriage and I think that is what people spend $100 an hour on, going to therapy; to achieve.”

Every bit as emotional as the trailers for Fences show, Davis tirelessly proves with every scene, just how much she deserves to win that Oscar for best supporting actress later this month.

“The final scene I think is the hardest scene. Rose tells her son, ‘Your daddy wanted the best for you, he made mistakes but your life from here on out is on you, so you have to forgive because forgiving is giving-up all hope of a better past and this is my part I played in it, I messed up so now go and live’.

“That’s what I want people to take away from watching Rose because that’s what most people do, they live in unforgiveness and they live blissfully unaware of their own faults.”

Davis could easily be forgiven for being less welcoming in the middle of a busy schedule that involves filming for How to Get Away with Murder. As if that wasn’t enough, the mother-of-one reveals details of her forthcoming movie:

“I’m doing the next Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave) movie, Widows, that Gillian Flynn is writing - she wrote Gone Girl and…then me being on vacation, but you don’t look out for that, I’m looking out for that!”

This Editor for one will be looking over her Twitter feed for all things Viola, for sure.

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