Viola Davis Talks ‘Murder’ Role: ‘I Was Tired of Being the Third Girl from the Left’

Actress Viola Davis was pretty open at Thursday night’s “How To Get Away With Murder” FYC event at Sunset Gower Studios.

“I was tired of being the third girl from the left kinda feeling like I was jumping up behind a Meryl Streep or Julianne Moore saying, ‘Hey, I’m still here… I play the maid and I’ve got two lines!’”

The Shondaland star explained that saying “yes” to Annalise Keating was “a no brainer,” but not everyone on the panel was as loose-lipped. Even after a jaw-dropping finale on “HTGAWM,” writer-creator Peter Nowalk kept any information about the ABC show’s impending second season under wraps.

“I don’t like to spoil anything. Obviously the fun of the show is you don’t know what’s coming,” he said.

Moderated by Debbie Allen, who directed an episode of the drama, the Q&A event revealed that viewers were not the only ones in the dark. The cast, too, only find out their story lines episode to episode.

Alfred Enoch said this aspect of the production pushes his acting abilities: “It gives you flexibility of where you go and what people will believe that character is capable of. It’s fun.”

His co-star Charlie Weber initially assumed the worst before he found out the truth about his character, Frank, being Lila Standgard’s murderer. Just before the finale was filmed, he received the surprising call from Nowalk’s assistant.

“There was like a five second gap [on the phone] and when you’re on a show about murder, my life flashed before my eyes,” he recounted.

Nowalk subsequently admitted, “I should have gotten on the phone right away and said, ‘It’s not bad.’”

But the wig goes off to Viola Davis, who made some stunning reveals on the panel. The leading lady was credited for suggesting one of the most unforgettable moments in the show — removing her makeup and hair onscreen.

“Before I got the role, I said, ‘Listen, Shonda… Pete… Betsy. I’m not going to do this unless I can take my wig off,” she explained. “I wanted to see a real woman on TV.”

And whose bright idea was it to cast Cicely Tyson as Annalise’s mother? Viola reluctantly took the kudos again after Nowalk spilled the beans on the much-fêted casting choice.

“I didn’t want to say anything because I didn’t want to steal your thunder,” Davis said.

The FYC event also included Tom Verica, Karla Souza, Billy Brown, Marcia Gay Harden, director Bill D’Elia, and exec producer Betsy Beers.

Annalise Keating and her conspiring students return for a second year Thursdays this fall on ABC.

 

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