Viola Davis Says She Regrets Her Role In The Help
"I just felt that at the end of the day that it wasn’t the voices of the maids that were heard."
Viola Davis was recently interviewed by The New York Times where she revealed she regrets one of her major film roles.
"I have passed on a lot of roles. There have been one or two that I regretted for maybe a minute, and then I let it go... Almost a better question is, have I ever done roles that I’ve regretted?" Davis said in the interview.
"I have [regretted roles], and The Help is on that list. But not in terms of the experience and the people involved because they were all great," she explained.
Back in 2011 The Help hit cinemas with an all-star cast including Emma Stone, Jessica Chastain, Octavia Spencer, Bryce Dallas Howard and, of course, Viola Davis.
The Help followed many of the women in the film but mostly centred on Stone's character of Eugenia Phelan and her relationship with two black maids, Minny and Aibileen, played by Spencer and Davis. The story revolved around Eugenia's experience writing a book from the point of view of the maids, exposing the everyday racism they faced.
"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," Davis said.
"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."
Davis' experience was backed up by director Ava DuVernay who worked on The Help as a publicist.
The desire to tell a story about black maids via a white conduit seemed to contradict the film's own message, by "giving a voice" to Minny and Aibileen they were essentially robbed of the ability to speak their own truth.
This isn't the first time Davis has spoken about the film -- last year she said she "loved the premise" of The Help but added, "I don’t feel like it was from our perspective, that’s the problem I had with it. I had it from the very beginning."
Davis was nominated for an Academy Award for her performance in The Help and was the front-runner to take it home after winning the Screen Actor's Guild award, but lost that year to Meryl Streep for her role in The Iron Lady.
Featured image: Walt Disney Studios.