IN COURT, YOU NEED TO BE A HARD CASE

Herald Sun - Switched On - - COVER STORY - DEB­BIE SCHIPP TV WRITER

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

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