“How to Get Away with Murder” star Viola Davis promises fans will enjoy a killer final batch of episodes, teasing that the story will have a “great ending,” even if it’s not a traditionally “happy” one.
“I don’t know if I’m into happy endings, I’m into great endings. I think happy endings sometimes can be a manipulation to give the audience what they want, but in a way that’s pat; in a way that maybe is not a realistic trajectory for the character. But I think this is gonna end exactly the way it should,” Davis told Variety, adding, “You know what? It ends perfectly. With all of it, it makes absolute sense.”
Joking that she’s “always the one who gives away the plot line,” Davis did her best to keep the spoilers to a minimum while catching up with Variety on Instagram Live after the series debuted the first of its final six hours, returning from a four-month hiatus.
“What a magnificent job they’ve done with the last episodes,” Davis said, describing the final episodes as a “love letter.” ”It’s like [creator Pete Nowalk] took all of these fireworks and put them in a box and said ‘What would happen if we blow them all up at the same time?’ And that’s what he did. He blew them up.”
For six seasons, the writers have left audiences with more questions than answers — a few mysteries still left to be solved include “Who killed Asher?” “Who killed Annalise?” “How is Wes alive?” and “Will Annalise end up with actual blood on her hands and murder someone by the end of the series?”
“Now, you know I can’t tell you that,” Davis quipped when Variety posed that final question. “But let me tell you something, Annalise is a hell of a character with blood on our hands or no blood on her hands.”
“Pete Nowalk dared to write boldly for a woman of color. He decided to just blow the lid off of everything that society and culture has ever said about us, everything that this entertainment industry has ever said about us. He took my apron off and, you know, took off all of those sort of stereotypes and he made her a whirling dervish of womanhood with no boundaries, no stigma, no labels,” she explained. “And by God, by the last episode, he rides her into the ground and off into the sunset in such a beautiful way. … I can’t wait to hear the reactions of people when everything is over. I think that’s going to be the best.”
With just five episodes left to air and the cast and crew having wrapped production on the series in February, Davis reflected on the ABC drama’s “long goodbye.”
“Saying goodbye to the characters, saying goodbye to the actors, saying goodbye to the experience … and like any goodbye, you look back on it with a whole new appreciation,” Davis said. “I think we made good TV these last six years.”
But of course, all good things must come to an end. And for “How to Get Away with Murder,” Davis thinks the show will leave a legacy of “bold storytelling where everyone had a seat at the table.” Of playing Annalise, the Oscar-winner says that the character has helped her tap into some of the truths about herself as a human by playing a character that wasn’t always “likable.”
“In the past, I always felt like if I didn’t have an apron on and a baby on my lap and I wasn’t very maternal, then I had no value,” she explained. “I think that we have to be allowed to have our mess as women. I don’t think that it makes us any less valuable. I think it makes us very human. And there are days when you just don’t feel like it. And there are parts of ourselves that are not finished. And then there are parts of ourselves that are very unapologetic — sometimes Viola Davis herself wishes I had the courage to not be liked and I could create some really definitive boundaries in my life.”
“I want every woman out there to feel represented. I feel that Annalise represented womanhood,” she said. “And womanhood has been so limited in the past. You feel like if you’re not a size two and blonde, blue eyes — which is beautiful too — then you’re not included in the arena of femininity and complexity. I never want my art to represent that. I want my art to represent you, me, my mama, my aunties, you know, everyone.”
Davis also took a moment to acknowledge that “How to Get Away with Murder’s” return on Thursday night offered a respite for fans self-isolating during the coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s very important for me at this time to have conversations that don’t exclude what’s going on right now,” Davis noted. “I mean there’s some beautiful things that have happened with just hunkering down and being connected to your family and friends in a totally different way. But, I as an empath, my heart aches for what’s going on right now. It totally is completely broken and I don’t know how to include that in anything I say or do. I really don’t.”
Offering a glimpse into how she’s spending her time at home with her family, Davis has binged two documentaries on Miles Davis, “Who Killed Malcom X,” and loves Danny Glover’s editions of “Cold Case Files,” in addition to building LEGO with her daughter Genesis (the youngster is also a big fan of Nicolas Cage’s “National Treasure” films). But the Oscar-winner’s guilty pleasure — “Braxton Family Values.”
Of “How to Get Away with Murder” serving as a similar distraction, Davis added, “I always absolutely at the end of the day want people to be entertained, but … I also want people to be tuned in.”
“I think so often we use that word escapism to the point that it’s just taken on a whole new meaning. It means we want to escape ourselves; we want to escape each other,“ she explained. “There are some really huge, enormous issues that have been revealed in this world. I think that there had been enormous issues that have been revealed even in the past four or five years, [that] certainly have been reflected in the show. And until we lean in and really dare greatly to have those discussions, those really hard discussions, none of this change is going to stick. Not even the good change..… We’ve got to hold it in our heart.”
“How to Get Away with Murder” airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. on ABC.