“I wanted to be the show.” That was one of the biggest factors that drew two-time Academy Award nominee Viola Davis to ABC’s How to Get Away With Murder from executive producer Shonda Rhimes. And as you can see on this newly released poster, Davis got her wish.
Standing strong — and solo — against a bold red background accented with an ink-like splash, the 48-year-old actress commands your attention, and demands your respect. A request made infinitely easier when she eloquently explains, as she did at the 2014 Television Critics Association summer press tour, why this role was too good to pass up.
The attraction was the material. I think the day of choosing TV over film and TV somehow diminishing your career as an actor or actress, I think, has changed. I think people migrate towards material, especially after they reach a certain age, certain hue, certain sex. And I have to say, and I will be bold enough to say, that I have gotten so many wonderful film roles, but I’ve gotten even more film roles where I haven’t been the show. It’s like I’ve been invited to a really fabulous party, only to hold up the wall.
I wanted to be the show. I wanted to have a character that kind of took me out of my comfort zone. And that character happened to be in a Shonda Rhimes show in How to Get Away With Murder. And so I did the only smart thing that any sensible actress would do, and I took it. I dove at it. And I love the fact that she’s messy and mysterious and you don’t know who she is. She’s not necessarily nurturing and ‘Come sit on my lap so I can talk to you, baby.’
She’s not the kind of person that doesn’t need God, Jesus, or Buddha, because she knows all the answers. She’s messy. She’s a woman. She’s sexual. She’s vulnerable. And I think I feel extremely fortunate that I am alive and still active and this role came to me at this point in my life.
It’s refreshing to see ABC selling this show based solely on the strength and appeal of Viola Davis. But we’d expect nothing less from Shonda Rhimes.