Viola Davis on How Being Bullied as a Child Influences Her Career
The Suicide Squad star says she dreamed about being Wonder Woman so she could "take care" of bullies
That award-winning actress Viola Davis identifies with a strong female character like Wonder Woman should come as no surprise – particularly to those who are familiar with her knack for playing fierce fictional females, like Annalise Keating on TV’s How to Get Away with Murder and Amanda Waller in Suicide Squad.
In a sit-down with Jess Cagle, editorial director of PEOPLE and Entertainment Weekly, Davis reveals she has a long-term connection to the Amazonian hero and wanted to have superpowers to “take care” of her bullies: “I grew up trading comic books. Wonder Woman was my hero, that was it for me,” she said during the latest episode of The Jess Cagle Interview.
“By the way, I’m going to be there first day, opening day of Wonder Woman, absolutely, hands down,” she says. “Superman, all the DC Comics, and I’m not just saying that because I’m doing Suicide Squad, I just was in love. I just thought to myself because I was bullied growing up, I said, ‘If I could be Wonder Woman I could take care of all the bullies, and I could be cute doing it,’ and so that’s it.”
In Suicide Squad, Davis plays merciless government operative Amanda Waller, the woman tasked with keeping an all-star group of supervillains in line.
“There was something about that that was absolutely appealing,” she says. “You know what, it’s the girl in me, because I’m really shy. I’ve gotten a lot better, but I was intensely shy when I was younger, really bad. I’m not confrontational, I’m not one of those women, so it was really interesting to play someone who is unapologetically brutal. It was something very liberating about that, and very much someone who fed on power and control, which is something I don’t feed on.”
And Davis’ love of playing strong characters has certainly paid off this year. After a standout performance in the upcoming film Fences, Davis landed both a Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild nomination for best actress in a supporting role. And with two nods already under her belt, the actress is on track to score a coveted Oscar nomination as well.