Authenticity and Being Honest with Oneself Is Far More Important Than Being Likeable. A Group of Women Team Up to Pull off a Heist after the Deaths of Their Criminal Husbands in Widows. Star Viola Davis Tells LAURA HARDING Why the Time Was Right for This Kind of Film Elizabeth Debicki as Alice Gunner, Viola Davis as Veronica Rawlins, Michelle Rodriguez as Linda Perelli and Cynthia Erivo as Belle in Widows

Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales), November 4, 2018 | Go to article overview

Authenticity and Being Honest with Oneself Is Far More Important Than Being Likeable. A Group of Women Team Up to Pull off a Heist after the Deaths of Their Criminal Husbands in Widows. Star Viola Davis Tells LAURA HARDING Why the Time Was Right for This Kind of Film Elizabeth Debicki as Alice Gunner, Viola Davis as Veronica Rawlins, Michelle Rodriguez as Linda Perelli and Cynthia Erivo as Belle in Widows


Byline: LAURA HARDING

T'S been almost two years since Viola Davis won her first, and to date only, Oscar - for Best Supporting Actress in Fences.

IUp on stage in front of Hollywood's biggest stars, clutching the long skirt of her bright red dress in the same hand as her gold statue, she described why she became an actress, saying it is the only profession that celebrates "what it means to live a life".

It was a touching moment, watching a powerhouse figure such as Viola moved to tears in front of so many people.

Watching it now, it's a reminder of how much has changed in Hollywood since then and that the stories she talks about, of those lives lived, are changing, too.

That feels pertinent to Viola's new film, Widows, about four women who come together after their husbands are killed in an armed heist.

They plot to pull off the robbery their husbands had planned out before their deaths.

Based on a British mini-series by Lynda La Plante from the 1980s, it has been skilfully updated by director Steve McQueen to contemporary Chicago.

It tells a story not just about women who have been underestimated, undermined or abused who are taking control of their lives, but also about race, class and politics.

"It came at the right time, in the right zeitgeist, when people are ready to receive it," Viola, 53, says thoughtfully.

"As opposed to 10 or 15 years ago when they would've been like, 'What?' "I always say that art and movies reflect the times anyway, and certainly that's the case with this movie."

Viola plays Veronica Rawlins, a woman left to pick up the pieces of her life after her career criminal husband is killed in the disastrous robbery.

She soon discovers that when he died in an explosion her husband took stolen money with him.

That money belongs to a local gangster who soon comes to collect.

She also learns that her husband had left elaborate plans for another heist and endeavours to finish the job herself to raise the money, recruiting the widows of her husband's co-conspirators to pull it off with her.

Moving the action to modern Chicago gives Steve McQueen - who penned the script with Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn - the chance to explore issues of race that don't exist in the original series.

"Race is such a huge part of our culture, the same way that sexism is," says Viola.

"I love the way that the film explores that in a way that's seamless. The way the N-word just comes out of the politician's mouth as if they're nothing.

"People dehumanised without batting an eye and yet in the midst of all that you have a love story, which is me and Harry Rawlins (her on-screen husband, played by Liam Neeson). And that seems to be right.

"That looks like life to me, that's sort of like it is. On one hand we're saying that people are better than others, we're treating people as less than, and at the same time we find each other and we love each other. …

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Authenticity and Being Honest with Oneself Is Far More Important Than Being Likeable. A Group of Women Team Up to Pull off a Heist after the Deaths of Their Criminal Husbands in Widows. Star Viola Davis Tells LAURA HARDING Why the Time Was Right for This Kind of Film Elizabeth Debicki as Alice Gunner, Viola Davis as Veronica Rawlins, Michelle Rodriguez as Linda Perelli and Cynthia Erivo as Belle in Widows
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