Viola Davis says she regrets her role in The Help
When it comes to role regrets, Viola Davis has had a few.
The acclaimed actress recently told the New York Times in a reader-sourced Q&A that, in hindsight, she’s not satisfied with her role as Aibileen Clark in the 2011 film The Help.
“Have I ever done roles that I’ve regretted? I have, and The Help is on that list,” she told the Times.
Adapted from the 2009 Kathryn Stockett novel of the same name, The Help starred Emma Stone as Skeeter Phelan, a young woman writing a book collected from the stories of black maids working in the segregated South.
The film shot Davis to national prominence with an Oscar campaign she was a heavy favorite to win until Meryl Streep scored a surprise victory for her work in The Iron Lady. The Help also brought Oscar buzz to Jessica Chastain and Octavia Spencer, the latter of whom ultimately won for Best Supporting Actress.
Davis said she regrets that the film didn’t truly give voice to Aibileen and the other black women at the heart of the story. “I just felt that at the end of the day that it wasn’t the voices of the maids that were heard,” she said. “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 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, who went on to win an Oscar for Fences last year, took care to stress that her regrets have nothing to do with her overall experience working on The Help, or with her fellow cast and crew. “The friendships that I formed are ones that I’m going to have for the rest of my life,” she said. “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.”
Representatives for Davis did not immediately respond to request for further comment, nor did reps for director Tate Taylor. A spokesperson for Disney, which distributed the film, did not provide immediate comment.
Read Davis’ full Q&A in the New York Times.