• The Hollywood Reporter on LinkedIn
  • Follow THR on Pinterest
AUG
15
3 YEARS

'The Help's' Viola Davis Drew Inspiration from Her Mother for Role (Video)

The actress appeared on the CBS “Early Show” to discuss the pressure associated with playing a maid in 2011.

Viola Davis
Jason Kempin/Getty Images

The film adaptation of Kathryn Stockett’s The Help has received rave reviews, especially for the actors involved with the project. Among the most buzzed about performers is Viola Davis, who earned a slew of award nominations for her small, but memorable, role in 2008’s Doubt.  

STORY: 'The Help's' Viola Davis Adopting a Child
 
“I want to rename the movie ‘The Pressure Cooker’ because so many people have read [the book], so many people have grown up with these surrogate mothers and there was a huge pressure with the African American community, because I was playing a maid in 2011,” Davis explained. “There’s so much stigma attached to playing a maid in movies.”
 
The actress admits to drawing a great amount of inspiration from her own mother, who grew up on the Singleton Plantation in South Carolina and worked for many years as a maid.

STORY: 'The Help': What Hollywood is Saying About the Film
 
“I modeled the character after her,” Davis said.  “There’s so many black women who led such hard lives, but still had so much joy and compassion and love in their hearts.”
 
“For me it was such a joy to play this woman,” she added of her character, Aibileen. “It was such a joy to go on a journey and just play homage to these women who contributed so much to our culture. And I think there’s something in this movie for everyone.”
 
Watch the full interview below, in which Davis jokes about indulging in local Moonshine with co-star Octavia Spencer in Mississippi.
 
The Help opened on Wednesday, Aug. 10, exceeding expectations with $35.5 million over the course of its five-day debut. The film opened second to Twentieth Century Fox’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

 

RELATED:

The Help: Film Review

PHOTOS: 'The Help's' Retro Southern Style

STORY: 'The Help' Premiere: 5 Things Seen and Heard on the Red Carpet