'Widows' Star Viola Davis: "As a Woman, Sometimes the Claws Have Gotta Come Out"

By Tim Grierson Senior Us Critic | Screen International, November 20, 2018 | Go to article overview

'Widows' Star Viola Davis: "As a Woman, Sometimes the Claws Have Gotta Come Out"


Tim Grierson Senior Us Critic, Screen International


In Steve McQueen’s Widows, Viola Davis’s character must commit an audacious heist in order to survive.

Viola Davis

“I know women who are like her. Women that class, that colour, in relationships like that. I haven’t seen them in cinema, but they do exist, so I drew on those women. I have a few of them in my life.”

Viola Davis is dissecting her process for understanding Veronica, the grieving, resolute leader of a group of mismatched women who find themselves having to pull off a dangerous heist after their husbands are killed while carrying out their latest crime. Set in Chicago, Widows is a volcanic crime-thriller that also speaks eloquently about race, class and gender.

To guide such an ambitious film, based on the 1980s Lynda La Plante UK TV series of the same name, director Steve McQueen wisely turned to an actress of incomparable intelligence and steel - and he wasn’t concerned that she was unfamiliar with the original show.

“I think he trusts the artists and trusts the interpretation of the work,” says Davis, who resisted watching the series and Ann Mitchell’s performance of her character, who was named Dolly. “I think that it’s really problematic when you look at someone’s work and you try to be so different from them. What happens is you can sometimes work against the script and the narrative, just to be different, and that simply doesn’t work. Steve’s chosen you for a specific reason, and he wants you to bring it for that specific reason.”

For Davis, who in 2017 won an Oscar and a Bafta for her portrayal of a weary wife in Denzel Washington’s Fences, the key was navigating Veronica’s sadness and desperation within the ticking-clock narrative. Her criminal husband Harry (Liam Neeson) died in the botched heist, but she had already been mourning her son - the circumstances behind his tragic demise eventually revealed to the audience - and Davis gives a dazzling performance that is both raw and controlled.

“When you’re introduced to Veronica, you meet her at a huge loss,” Davis says. “She’s lost a child and a husband, but my big thing with Veronica’s journey was just the choice to live. To just live again.”

That positivity is chiming with audiences in the UK, where the film was released in early November and grossed $3.1m (£2.4m) on its opening weekend - a good result for distributor 20th Century Fox and partners including New Regency Pictures, See-Saw Films and Film4. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

'Widows' Star Viola Davis: "As a Woman, Sometimes the Claws Have Gotta Come Out"
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.