Jane Fonda, Viola Davis on Tackling Serious Issues With Their Characters (VIDEO)

Jane Fonda: What is so interesting to me about movie acting and television acting — acting in front of a camera — is this combination of technical stuff like hitting your mark and where’s the light … and embodying a character. There are moments, and I can count mine on one hand during my 50-year career, when you hit the sweet spot. Where you’re doing all the technical things you need to do, and you’re embodying the character.

Viola Davis: Yeah, it’s like you’re in nirvana. I used to have more of those when I was younger.

Fonda: Really? How come?

Davis: I think because I didn’t know better, so I thought I was great. Now I have moments like that, but if I watch it, a lot of times I change my mind.

Fonda: What is your process? How do you get inside the skins of your characters?

Davis: I look for a real person that I can model the character after. Then I start from, “What is the character’s need? What drives them in life?” As soon as I figure that out, which takes me weeks, I’ve basically found the character.

Fonda: How much chance do you get to work with the showrunner to help develop the character and create an arc?

Davis: Well, Jane, I’m one of those actors that will call a showrunner at 3:00 in the morning.

Fonda: Oh, you’re one of those! Really?

Davis: I’m a Juilliard grad — they call Juilliard “jail yard.” Because it’s so strict, the discipline is kind of hardcore. But when I get a revelation, I’ve got to share it.

Fonda: Even when it’s 3:00 in the morning?

Davis: Yes. What about you?

Fonda: Well, I’m too scared of people being mad at me to call at 3:00 in the morning. But you know, I had never done episodic television before. I’d been a recurring guest star on “The Newsroom,” but doing it every day is very different. I didn’t realize you have a different director every episode. I didn’t realize you’re working sometimes 15 hours a day, and there’s not really rehearsal. It was much harder than I expected, and I just felt like I was in a learning mode. I think if we get a second season, I’m going to have more input. Because I think I understand the character better.

Filed Under:

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 2

Leave a Reply


Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

  1. marisella says:

    Great conversation between two actors that always produces great body of work. Bravo.

  2. Peewee says:


More TV News from Variety