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Viola Davis on the Importance of Her ‘Sexualized’ ‘How to Get Away With Murder’ Character

Variety logo Variety 11/29/2016 Sarah Ahern
© Provided by Variety

Viola Davis sees her “How to Get Away With Murder” character, Annalise Keating, as an opportunity — in more ways than one.

The actress discussed how she executes her role as an imperfect, yet sexualized woman in the ABC series in an interview with Tom Hanks as part of Variety’s “Actors on Actors.”

“I saw that role as an opportunity for something that was way bigger than doing good work. I saw it as an opportunity for a dark-skinned actress of 50 to be in a role that is sexualized, not sexy — there is a difference between sexualized and sexy,” Davis said to Hanks. “I saw it as an opportunity, a blank palate, or canvas, to put my mark on.”

Davis, who will also lead in the drama “Fences” premiering this Christmas, explained that when she is performing in a TV sex scene, it is important for her to be comfortable exposing her body for a person who is “not a size 2.”

“If I am in a sex scene, I want to say ‘this is why I am attracted to you, this is why it has gotten to this point, this is what my body looks like,'” Davis shared.

In the interview, she and Hanks joked about the unrealistic depictions of characters in many TV shows.

“A lot of times, the women are in far too good of shape, and the problem I always have is the women’s lip gloss is always perfectly applied,” Hanks joked. “If you’re working hard in the legal office, your clothes should be wrinkled and your hair should be askew.”

The interview will air during the “Actors on Actors” premiere on Jan. 3, 2017, at 7 p.m. PT on PBS SoCal KOCE, presented by The Venetian Las Vegas. Click here to see the full video. 


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