This Friday sees the release of Denzel Washington’s adaptation of August Wilson’s celebrated play Fences on the big screen. Washington and his Tony-award winning co-star Viola Davis reprised their roles for the cinematic take on Wilson’s play six years after their Broadway revival. The powerful play is set in the 1950s and centres on the fortunes of a family set against the oppressive nature of race relations in America.
We had the chance to sit down with both Davis and Washington this week, our interview with the Oscar-winning director will be live on the site shortly. First though, we have some time with Viola Davis to talk about her time on the play, and moving the character to the cinema.
She talks about the trust she had in her co-star, and how ‘going big’ made all the difference to a particularly crucial scene, “I love it because Denzel is not afraid of giving you your due, of giving you your spotlight. He’s not afraid of your power. To look over at a partner and know that they are right there with you, that they’ve got you…that’s why we clicked so much.”
She also talked about keeping up with the awards season following her Golden Globe win and her Oscar nomination. She spoke about how she first reacted to seeing the play and then getting involved with the film version. On the nature of the power of the play, she said, “They are absolutely palpable as real people…the grand, sweeping nature of it, the tragedy of it. The fact that it’s an inclusive story. I love a good tragedy…I love those stories, that’s why I love Shakespeare. To be in a movie where I can actually develop a character is gold for a character journeyman actor like me.”
We had to ask about her continuing role as Amanda Waller in DC’s ongoing cinematic universe. As of right now there are no acknowledged plans to bring the character into subsequent films, but Davis was happy to talk about why she loved playing her, “She has no super powers, but she has to control them. So, tapping into that sociopathic power to control all those bad guys, and to hold a gun as a woman and do it all with a ‘fro and pearls – it’s what I live for…whenever I get that call I’ll be there.”
Fences is released in the UK on the 10th of February.
Viola Davis Fences Interview