Five questions with ... Oscar nominee Viola Davis of ‘Doubt'

by John Metz

McClatchy Newspapers (MCT)

19 February 2009


Viola Davis seemingly has rocketed onto the scene with her strong performance as Mrs. Miller in “Doubt,” a role that earned her an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress. But the South Carolina-born actress is no newcomer, having won many awards for her stage work.

She also has appeared in such movies as “Disturbia” and “Nights in Rodanthe,” several of Steven Soderbergh’s films (“Traffic,” “Solaris,” “Out of Sight”), and in TV dramas including “Law & Order: SVU,” “Brothers & Sisters” and “The Andromeda Strain.”

cover art


Director: John Patrick Shanley
Cast: Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams, Viola Davis

US theatrical: 12 Dec 2008 (Limited release)
UK theatrical: 6 Feb 2009 (General release)

Review [12.Dec.2008]

She was recently interviewed at the Crescent Court Hotel in Dallas.

1. This (the Oscars) is something a lot of actors dream of, so now your dream is coming true. So has it been what you expected?

A. It’s everything you could imagine, and everything you would not imagine. That’s a good way to describe it. ... It is the glitz and the glamour, you know, you have a stylist who dresses you up, and all these people giving you free stuff for your skin and jewelry and clothing; you get all of that stuff that you could possibly imagine. But then it’s the other stuff, too, that’s not so glamorous but a part of your job, you know. The publicity tours. People are always, ‘Oh, you went to London, and you went ...’ but you don’t really get to see these cities. So yeah, so it’s everything you can imagine and expect and all the things you wouldn’t expect.

2. When you first read the part (of Mrs. Miller in “Doubt”), (you have said) you didn’t understand Mrs. Miller. But you came to. So what is she like? Meryl (Streep)‘s character asks you something like, “What kind of a mother are you?” What kind of a mother is she?

A. That’s the key to the scene. That’s the key that unlocks the scene. She’s a mother that’s been put in extraordinary circumstances and then has to do the best she can in order to survive within them. That’s the kind of mother she is. She hasn’t been born into privilege, and she was not born into a time that afforded her a lot of choices. Let’s face it, that scene would not have taken place in 2009. It just wouldn’t have. No one would believe it. Because she could get a divorce. She definitely wouldn’t be struggling so much with her son because - mmm, I can’t reveal, or else I would have to kill you - and she could get a better job. But because it’s 1964, she has the restraint of society that’s choking her. And also there’s got to be the restraint of her upbringing. Because, you know, we can only go so far; we can’t go far beyond what we know and what we’ve been taught about ourselves, about life, and I think that she probably has not had a good life. That’s the kind of mother she is - doing the best she can with what she’s been given.

3. Have you picked a dress yet for the Oscars?

A. I’m always surprised when dudes ask me that question ...

4. It’s an outfit that will live on in history!

A. Absolutely, so I can’t mess up, huh? Or my stylist can’t mess up. ... Someone is making me a gown. ... It’s going to be colorful.

5. I bet that’s a lot of fun.

A. It’s OK. You know, I’m surprised that I’m not having more fun with it. I am having fun, but it’s not like I’m over the moon about it. ‘Cause I’m always afraid it’s not going to fit over the thigh and booty area. But, yeah, I think it’s going to be fabulous - Italian.

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