Viola Davis has given a clear explanation as to why she took a lead role on upcoming TV series "How to Get Away with Murder" after starring in some notable feature films like "Traffic" (2000) and "The Help" (2011). Speaking at the TCA summer press tour during the panel for the Shonda Rhimes-executive produced show, she told reporters, "The attraction was the material, yes."
"I think the day of choosing TV over film and TV somehow diminishing your career as an actor or actress, I think, has changed," she added. "I think people migrate towards material, especially after they reach a certain age, certain hue, certain sex."
She admitted that she could get supporting roles in film, but this time she "wanted to be the show." She continued, "And I have to say, and I will be bold enough to say, that I have gotten so many wonderful film roles, but I've gotten even more film roles where I haven't been the show. It's like I've been invited to a really fabulous party, only to hold up the wall."
"I wanted to have a character that kind of took me out of my comfort zone. And that character happened to be in a Shonda Rhimes show in 'How to Get Away with Murder'. And so I did the only smart thing that any sensible actress would do, and I took it. I dove at it."
Of what attracted her to the role on the new ABC series, she said, "And I love the fact that she's messy and mysterious and you don't know who she is. She's not necessarily nurturing and, 'Come sit on my lap so I can talk to you, baby.' She's not the kind of person that-doesn't need God, Jesus, or Buddha, because she knows all the answers. She's messy. She's a woman. She's sexual. She's vulnerable. And I think-I feel extremely fortunate that I am alive and still active and this role came to me at this point in my life."
Also at the TCA panel, Rhimes defended the show's title which is too long for Twitter or may have a "difficult" Twitter hashtag of #HTGAWM. "We don't consider a hashtag when we're writing a title," she said. When a reporter suggested a shorter title, she quickly rejected the idea, insisting, "[Creator Pete Nowalk] came to us and said I have a show and I want to call it 'How to Get Away with Murder,' and we liked it."
She added, "The idea that we decide what Twitter's going to call something is a very weird notion to me. Twitter makes its own decisions about that kind of thing. We don't decide what Twitter will call something. Twitter has a lovely community of people who decide stuff. It's a very new notion now that networks are trying to push hashtags on the community of Twitter. Twitter makes stuff up and that's far more interesting."
"How to Get Away with Murder" will launch Thursday, September 25 at 10 P.M. on ABC following the returns of Rhimes' other shows "Grey's Anatomy" and "Scandal".
On the new legal thriller, Davis, who earned an Academy Award nomination for her role in "The Help", plays Professor Annalise DeWitt, a brilliant, charismatic and seductive master litigator who invites four of the best students at East Coast Law School to work on a high profile murder case. She manipulates them into doing dirty legal legwork like seducing someone to gain insight in the prosecution's case, or digging up dirt to discredit the star witness.