Viola Davis On Role In New Shonda Rhimes Drama: 'I Wanted To Be The Show'

Oscar nominee Viola Davis stars in the latest drama from Executive Producer Shonda Rhimes, "How To Get Away With Murder," and the actress explained why her new role on ABC matters to her so much.

"I think the day of choosing TV over film and TV somehow diminishing your career as an actor or actress, I think, has changed. I think people migrate towards material," Viola told reporters during the panel for her new show on Tuesday at the Television Critics Association Summer Tour in Beverly Hills.

In her new role, Viola plays Annalise Keating, a criminal law professor and defense attorney who will do almost anything to secure the freedom of her clients.

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Viola said although she's had important parts throughout her career, they didn't always hit the bullseye.

"And I have to say, and I will be bold enough to say that I have gotten so many wonderful film roles, but I've gotten even more film roles where I haven't been the show. It's like I've been invited to a really fabulous party only to hold up the wall," Viola continued. "I wanted to be the show. I wanted to have a character that kind of put me out of my comfort zone, and that character happened to be in the Shonda Rhimes show in 'How to Get Away with Murder.' And so I did the only smart thing that any sensible actress would do, and I took it and I dove at it."

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The actress said as she films the series, she is indulging in the complexity of Annalise.

"I love the fact that she's messy and mysterious and you don't know who she is. She' s not necessarily nurturing and, 'Come sit on my lap so I can talk to you, baby.' She's not the kind of person that doesn't need God and Jesus and Budha 'cause she knows all the answers," Viola said. "She's messy, she's a woman, she's sexual, she's vulnerable and I think I feel extremely fortunate that I am alive, and still active and this role came to me at this point in my life."

"How to Get Away with Murder" makes its debut on ABC at 10 PM on Thursday, September 25, following the returns of "Grey's Anatomy" at 8 PM and "Scandal" at 9 PM ET/PT.

-- Jolie Lash

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