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Julia Roberts on Viola Davis in ‘The Help’

SAG Preview 2011: Actors on Actors

“To say Viola Davis is brilliant is to say running a marathon is difficult. It is simply something we all know. Now, I have never run a full marathon, but I have worked alongside Viola and I can tell you it is incredible. She is masterful. She is fierce. She is a little bit scary — in the most complimentary way! Her attention to detail and reason is impeccable. To sit face to face with that stunning face is heavenly. Playing closest friends was a dream and a joy. ‘The Help’ is a book I quite enjoyed and I was only sure of Viola’s brilliance as Aibileen. I knew she would be masterful and detailed. I didn’t realize the depth of the river she would call the audience upon — to float and submerge, to nearly drown in the pain of her brown seen-it-all-too-closely eyes. Viola actually vanished. Only Aibileen remained. Only her quest existed for those moments. The devotion to her charge. The steadfast faith in her god, her prayers. When she speaks of her son’s death and the feelings that overtake her each year on the anniversary of his accident, I didn’t realize my hand was to my mouth until I put it down in relief that she has kept going, has found a way to carry on in the face of such a loss. Viola’s portrayal of Aibileen is so human, so fully realized that you feel like you could reach out and hold her hand. Beautiful. The definition of the word ‘viola’ is a stringed instrument that resembles a violin but is larger and deeper in tone. As an actor, she — Viola Davis — stands alongside us all with resemblance, but so much larger and deeper in tone. Indeed.”

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