Viola Davis Q&A: ‘Fences’
Viola Davis may have won a 2010 Tony for “Fences” on Broadway, but as far as she was concerned there was room for improvement. As she told the audience after an NYC screening of the film adaptation of “Fences” on November 17, the film was “an opportunity to fix some things that I never got right on stage.” Watch Davis discuss the film above with her co-star and director Denzel Washington (video contains mild spoilers).
Davis plays Rose Maxson, the wife of an overbearing husband Troy (Washington) and mother of a frustrated son Cory (Jovan Adepo), and there’s a pivotal scene between Rose and Cory that she could never quite crack when she was on the rialto. “There was one day, literally for hours we went through the scene over and over again,” Davis remembered. “I said, at some point I’m going to get it — I went to Juilliard, I’m going to get it. But I never got it until I did the movie.”
She added, “You know when you’re not getting it right. You know when you’re coasting. Every time I would get to that scene, every single night, I would want it to be over.” So what changed? “I became a mother after that,” she explained, “and everything changed. My heart changed, my whole being changed, and then all of a sudden I got it … The whole speech was about how as parents we’re just doing the best we can with what we’re given. I didn’t get that.”
Not only did she finally get the meaning of the scene, she might also get an Oscar to go with her Tony. As of this writing she leads our experts’ predictions for Best Supporting Actress with 19/10 odds. It would be her third Oscar bid, following “Doubt” (Best Supporting Actress, 2008) and “The Help” (Best Actress, 2011).