IN COURT, YOU NEED TO BE A HARD CASE
Discredit the witness. Find a new suspect. Bury the evidence.
They are the three things Viola Davis’s criminal law professor alter ego Annalise Keating tells her students they need to deliver if they want to win a case.
It might sound simple, but it’s in fact the not-so-simple premise that has propelled How To Get Away With Murder into the spot of America’s number one drama in its first season.
At the centre of it all is Davis — as the complex, charismatic, manipulative, seductive and whip-smart Keating, she quite simply owns this show.
An uncompromising and contradictory pied piper, each year Keating selects a group of students to work at her law firm — and it’s not an easy ride for them. It’s like a Hunger Games of legal manoeuvring.
Nor is the role an easy one for the multiple-award winning Davis, who said that from the second she read the character she was intrigued by her ability to put on a tough-as-nails mask, and wanted desperately to see underneath it.
“Her quality of turning her vulnerability off so fast is the thing that stuck out the most,” Davis says.
“I can’t do that. I mean, I sometimes feel like an open wound, you know and I try to find ways to put on the mask and I fail miserably at it, and I feel like it has almost become my objective in life, how to make myself harder.”
Keating’s single-mindedness and brilliance at law means Davis has had to set aside her own personal views and moral compass to play the role.
“With the law the one thing I can’t reconcile, but I have to, is that as a criminal defence attorney you have to defend people you know are guilty,” Davis says. “It’s just the way it is. It is a kind of yucky part of what they do.
“Some of the scurviest people you have to defend as if they’re the most innocent. And it’s a very grey area. And you do have to be a bulldog.”
HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER, TUESDAY, 9PM, SEVEN