VIOLA MAKES HAY WHILE THE SUN SHINES
VIOLA Davis wants to keep it real. The 50-year-old scored the role of a lifetime when she signed on to play defence lawyer and law professor Annalise Keating in How to Get Away with Murder.
Davis had won widespread acclaim for movies including The Help and Doubt but a season playing Keating in the Peter Nowalk-created thriller took her success to a whole new level a fortnight ago when she became the first black woman to win an Emmy Award for Best Actress in a Drama.
Keating is an actor’s dream – a multi-multilayered woman full of contradictions – from fierce and cold-hearted to emotional and vulnerable.
“It [How to Get Away with Murder] has changed my life,” Davis says. “No one was writing like this for me in the movies. This is the first time that I’m a fully rounded woman. Peter has dared to write something that pushes the boundaries – that’s bold, that’s dramatic, that’s sexualised, that’s messy. I feel like I’m all of those things, or I know women who are all of those things.”
In season two, Davis says the challenge now is “to not allow my character to be completely dictated by the audience … to get swayed to [make her] likable”.
The first season centred on two murders – Annalise’s husband Sam (Tom Verica) and his mistress Lila Stangard (Megan West). Viewers were made to ponder how Keating and five of her students were caught up in the brutal slayings. Season two has a new murder to solve – Lila’s friend.
“Things get more and more complicated [in season two],” Nowalk says. “More than the murders, we are delving into the backstories of the characters – how their actions with each other get dirtier and grimier.”