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21st Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards - Press Room

Lester Cohen


Viola Davis is the kind of actress who brings a raw and personal energy to all of her work on every stage and screen. Her decades of hard work has paid off with a killer lead role in ABC’s hit How To Get Away With Murder. And now she’ll play the sharp-minded antihero  Amanda Waller in the DC superhero flick Suicide Squad.

Amanda Waller’s background in political science and military strategy, and her take-no-prisoners attitude, make her a fierce opponent to all superheroes in her path, even though she has no powers of her own.

Davis has a tendency to play characters with similar personality traits, so it’s no surprise that she’s been considered the front runner to play Waller for quite some time now.  The killer season finale of How To Get Away With Murder is all the reason we need to reflect on Davis’ roles, past and present, that gave her what she needed to prepare for Suicide Squad.

Annalise Keating in How To Get Away With Murder 

Davis signed on to play the role of Annalise Keating, and in that moment, television would never be the same again. Her strong characterization as a high-profile defense attorney/college professor who goes hard in the courtroom, has labeled Keating as one of the best characters on television.

Mrs. Miller in Doubt 

Davis had a paltry 10 minutes of screen time in this 2008 adaptation, but she made them her own as the mother of a boy in a relationship with a school pastors (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) that may be too close for comfort. Davis’ brief but potent portrayal of a mother in conflicted denial even got her a nomination for Best Supporting Actress at the 2009 Academy Awards.

Major Anderson in Ender’s Game

As psychologist Major Gwen Anderson, Davis unearthed the strength and will to tell off Harrison Ford‘s character Colonel Hyram Gruff, about the use of children as soldiers in this space-faring action flick. More power to her.

Nancy Birch in Prisoners 

Both Davis and on-screen husband Terrence Howard face a difficult challenge in this 2013 potboiler: watching their friend Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman) torture a man who may have kidnapped their two daughters. Davis shows a steely resolve that leads to some dark and twisted conclusions.

Carol Barrett in Blackhat 

In this under seen Michael Mann flick, Davis plays FBI agent Carol Barrett, who enlists the help of a master computer hacker when an even more dangerous hacker threatens national security. Davis’ hard-nosed performance was a saving grace for this film, and a confirmation that her steely and determined affect is a strong asset.

Dylan “CineMasai” Green is a movie geek, hip-hop aficionado, and pita chip enthusiast. Find him on Twitter.


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5 Roles That Made Viola Davis A No-Brainer Choice For ‘Suicide Squad’  was originally published on