Viola Davis says she was
Viola Davis says she was "terrified" about playing Michelle Obama in The First Lady / Picture Credit: Showtime

Viola Davis is undoubtedly one of the most exciting performers of our generation. Able to play both serious roles and others that have us crying with laughter, she's a versatile actress and somebody who is in high-demand across the whole of the entertainment industry.

One of her most recent gigs was on upcoming anthology series The First Lady, from creator Aaron Cooley. Showcasing the goings on at the White House through various points in history and, through the eyes of three former First Ladies, the show will see Davis play the incomparable Michelle Obama.

Davis recently discussed the role at a Television Critics Association panel and said, according to The Wrap: "It’s so specific and I had the insurmountable task [because] everyone knows who Michelle Obama is, everybody has claimed ownership of her. There is nothing about her that they want desecrated. A lot of times, when you approach a character, you want their mess, but with Michelle Obama… it’s not like she beats her husband. There is a small window of exercising your creative input. It’s way too specific for that. Exactly how she uses her mouth is how you have to use your mouth. How she touches her pearls is how you have to touch your pearls."

Adding to all of this, Davis says that she was "absolutely terrified", despite listening to her podcast "probably over 100 times" in preparation for the role.

Though much of Obama's life - and that of the other First Ladies featured - was played out in the public eye, it's their private goings on that have been dramatised for the series. This is something that director and executive producer Susanne Bier wants to make "completely clear" will be built out of "fiction".

Davis concluded: "There’s small minutiae that I can take creative license with and hope I’m not insulting her with it. That’s what you have to navigate as an artist. There’s a huge amount of fear. huge. But that’s what we live for as artists. It’s huge exercise in letting go and a huge exercise in transformation."

The star is in great company on the series, with Michelle Pfeiffer as Betty Ford and Gillian Anderson as Eleanor Roosevelt. Such an incredible cast will surely mean that The First Lady is going to be one of this year's must-watch shows. We can't wait to jump in.

The First Lady will premiere in April on Showtime in the US, with a UK broadcaster still to be announced.

RELATED: Viola Davis will release her memoir in April 2022

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