Viola Davis Regrets One Of Her Major Roles, But Probably Not For The Reason You Think

"I never heard that in the course of the movie."

Viola Davis Regrets One Of Her Major Roles, But Probably Not For The Reason You Think

"You is smart. You is kind. You is important." 

This trio of three-word sentences were made iconic by Viola Davis in the 2011 movie The Help, a film the actress now reveals is something she regrets — though her reasoning probably isn't what you'd guess.


In a New York Times interview full of reader-submitted questions, the Oscar winner was asked if there was a role she passed on that she regretted. Her answer was great and all, but Davis then turned the question completely around, asked a more pointed one, and offered up an answer that is truly intriguing.

"Almost a better question is, have I ever done roles that I've regretted? I have, and The Help is on that list," the 53-year-old said after answering the original question. "But not in terms of the experience and the people involved because they were all great. The friendships that I formed are ones that I'm going to have for the rest of my life. I had a great experience with these other actresses, who are extraordinary human beings. And I could not ask for a better collaborator than Tate Taylor."

Taylor directed The Help and wrote the screenplay based on the novel of the same name by Kathryn Stockett. Alongside Davis was Emma Stone, Octavia Spencer, Bryce Dallas Howard, and Jessica Chastain, among others. The movie was nominated for Best Picture at the 2012 Oscars with Davis snagging a nomination for Best Actress and Spencer actually winning for Best Supporting Actress.

"I just felt that at the end of the day that it wasn't the voices of the maids that were heard," Davis added. "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 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."

What Davis has to say has merit here, as Black actors and actresses rarely get Oscar attention outside of portraying stereotypical parts — be that slaves, criminals, or the like. With The Help, it was a chance to let the voices of Black women who made their living by serving their White employers. For Davis, that's where the project seems to have failed. Luckily for the How to Get Away With Murder star, there is more freedom in storytelling these days, so hopefully there won't be any future regrets.

Cover image: Tinseltown /


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