Wash­ing­ton ‘ter­ri­fied’ by role on HBO

Winnipeg Free Press - Section E - - ARTS & LIFE -

PASADENA, Calif. — Kerry Wash­ing­ton says she was acutely aware of the chal­lenge of play­ing Anita Hill in a minis­eries dra­ma­tiz­ing Clarence Thomas’s Supreme Court con­fir­ma­tion hear­ings.

“I was ter­ri­fied. Por­tray­ing some­body who’s real is a dif­fer­ent kind of re­spon­si­bil­ity, es­pe­cially when they’re alive. That sig­nif­i­cance was not lost on me,” Wash­ing­ton told a TV crit­ics’ meet­ing Thurs­day.

Wash­ing­ton, who is also an ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer on HBO’s Con­fir­ma­tion, de­but­ing in April, said she was 14 in 1991 when Hill emerged as a wit­ness against Thomas, ac­cus­ing him of work­place sex­ual ha­rass­ment a decade be­fore.

The ac­tress re­called her par­ents’ pas­sion­ate and con­trast­ing re­ac­tions to the hear­ings, which she said made her de­ter­mined that the minis­eries avoid any “one-note” ap­proach.

Thomas is played by Wen­dell Pierce ( Treme, The Wire), who said he searched “for the hu­man­ity of the char­ac­ter” as ac­tors typ­i­cally do.

“I had to check my own prej­u­dice about who I thought he was, and then I had this won­der­ful epiphany study­ing the man and re­al­iz­ing how much we had in com­mon,” Pierce said, in­clud­ing fam­ily roots in the South and in­flu­en­tial grand­fa­thers.

“I didn’t think of him as a political fig­ure. I thought of him as a man about to lose the great­est op­por­tu­nity he ever had,” Pierce said.

Thomas, who de­nied Hill’s al­le­ga­tions, re­mains a Supreme Court jus­tice.

Wash­ing­ton, who stars as a political cri­sis man­ager in Scan­dal, was asked if her ABC se­ries and Con­fir­ma­tion made her more or less cyn­i­cal about Wash­ing­ton.

“I’m re­ally in­spired by the dif­fer­ence a per­son can make in Wash­ing­ton and the kind of cul­tural shift” that fol­lowed the hear­ings, she said, with new at­ten­tion to is­sues in­clud­ing ha­rass­ment, vic­tim’s rights, race and power.

Nei­ther Wash­ing­ton nor oth­ers who in­volved in the pro­ject, in­clud­ing Greg Kin­n­ear as U.S. Sen. Joe Bi­den, ex­pressed an opin­ion dur­ing the Q&A ses­sion about Hill’s or Thomas’s ver­sion of events.

Kerry Wash­ing­ton

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