Viola Davis Says She Regrets Making ‘The Help’
It is not unusual for actors to regret a role they’ve taken over the course of their careers. Maybe they accepted a job because they needed the money, and later felt it wasn’t worth sacrificing their artistic integrity. Or maybe their relationship with the director soured over the course of production. Or maybe the movie was a massive flop and it hurt their ability to get other roles down the line.
It’s pretty rare, though, for an actor to regret a role that became a huge hit, helped elevate their profile in Hollywood, and netted them an Academy Award nomination. Still, that’s exactly what happened this week, when Viola Davis told The New York Times in an interview that she now regrets appearing in The Help, the 2011 film that grossed over $215 million worldwide, and turned Davis into a Best Actress nominee.
Why would Davis regret all that now? Here’s what she said:
I just felt that at the end of the day that it wasn’t the voices of the maids that were heard. I know Aibileen. I know Minny. They’re my grandma. They’re my mom. And I know that if you do a movie where the whole premise is, I want to know what it feels like to work for white people and to bring up children in 1963, I want to hear how you really feel about it. I never heard that in the course of the movie.
As interesting as the response is, it’s almost more interesting how the subject came up in the Times interview. Davis was answering questions from readers, and the actual question was about roles Davis regretted not taking. Instead, she chose to shift to the topic of roles she actually performed and later regretted and immediately offered The Help. The way it reads in print is like this is something she wanted to get off her chest.
Davis does go out of her way to say that the experience of making The Help was a “great” one, and that she couldn’t “ask for a better collaborator than [director] Tate Taylor.” So it’s not so much making the movie she regrets, as what she regrets what movie could have been and wasn’t, which is a story more about its black characters than its white ones. Which does make sense.
Davis’ new film Widows just debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival; it opens in theaters on November 16.
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