Taraji P. Henson, Viola Davis Talk Sex, Aging, Typecasting in Hollywood
Emmy contenders Taraji P. Henson (Empire), Viola Davis (How to Get Away With Murder), Lizzy Caplan (Masters of Sex), Maggie Gyllenhaal (The Honourable Woman), Jessica Lange (American Horror Story) and Ruth Wilson (The Affair) cover the latest issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine, available June 19.
The six leading ladies also took part in THR’s Drama Actress A-List Roundtable, where they spoke candidly about nudity, age, sex scenes, typecasting, the controversial roles their nominated for, race and much more. See photos and snippets below.
“I had never seen a 49-year-old, dark-skinned woman who is not a size 2 be a sexualized role in TV or film,” Davis says about the audacity of her role in ABC’s How to Get Away With Murder. “I’m a sexual woman, but nothing in my career has ever identified me as a sexualized woman. I was the prototype of the ‘mommified’ role. Then all of a sudden, this part came, and fear would be an understatement. When I saw myself for the first time in the pilot episode, I was mortified. I saw the fake eyelashes and, “Are you kidding me? Who is going to believe this?’ And then I thought: ‘OK, this is your moment to not typecast yourself, to play a woman who is sexualized and do your investigative work to find out who this woman is and put a real woman on TV who’s smack-dab in the midst of this pop fiction.'”
Taraji laments that her friends no longer want to talk to her unless it’s about Cookie, the fiery matriarch on FOX’s Empire: “I hate that bitch. She’s stolen my identity!”
Ruth Wilson admits that she actually enjoys playing someone unlikable: “I don’t mind being controversial. I wanted to challenge the stigma of affairs. They happen so often, surely they can’t be all wrong? [Creator] Sarah Treem was very aware that my character would get a lot more antagonism from press and fans. Women are always seen as the vixens and the scarlet ladies because he’s the married man with the kids. But my character is married as well, and I think Sarah helped me out in giving her a dead child. It gave her some justification.”
When discussing mediums Lizzy Caplan adds, “Actors who aren’t open to doing television are missing out. Roles in TV are better for women anyway. In film, we’re relegated to the nagging wife or the slutty girl in the leather pants with the pink leopard print.”
The Drama Actress Roundtable will be aired in its entirety on Close Up With The Hollywood Reporter on Sunday, August 2, at 11 am ET/PT on Sundance TV and HollywoodReporter.com.