Viola Davis: “I write a bio of the character.”

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  • Viola Davis:

    “I write a bio of the character.”

    Viola Davis describes her character-building and collaboration process

    (arranged by Carmichael Phillips)

    (Viola Davis)


    I read the script over and over and over again. And then I write a bio of the character.


    “I read the script over and over and over again. Just to find out the given circumstances. Who you are? What people say about you? And then I write a bio of the character.”

  • “I try to fill it up as much as possible. What are her memories? Does she have brothers and sisters? What secrets does she have? What’s her favorite color? I do all of that work first.”

    “I have a process…hopefully other people do, too. But one of the things that I do when I collaborate is, whatever the other actor gives me, I use. I don’t go home and prepare a performance and then come to the set and use that performance that I prepared at home.”

    “Whatever I work with at home, I only take it to a certain extent. And then when I go on stage, I prepare myself for the fact that the other actor may give me something completely different.”

  • “Because, what has happened in the past, and I see with other actors, they’ll tell another actor how to act. And the reason why they do that is because they’ve already planned what they want to do. And that other actor, whatever they’re giving them, is interfering with that.”


    Whatever I work with at home, I only take it to a certain extent.


    “That’s not how it works! You gotta say “yes” to your partner. If they’re giving you a line in a certain way, guess what? You gotta get up off your ‘A-Double-snakes’ and use that. That’s my process of collaboration.”

    (From an interview with Bafta Guru)


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