Viola Davis Admits Meryl Streep Once Left Her ‘In Shock’

Viola Davis and Meryl Streep are largely considered to be two of the best actors of their time. Both women have numerous accolades to their names and are highly-skilled thespians. The Oscar winners also received top-tier acting training. Davis boasts a Graduate Diploma from the Julliard School while Streep earned an MFA at Yale University. Considering how talented both women are, it was a treat when they starred opposite each other in Doubt.

Meryl Streep and Viola Davis
Meryl Streep and Viola Davis | Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

Meryl Streep and Viola Davis both shined in ‘Doubt’

Doubt certainly featured a star-studded cast. In addition to Streep and Davis, the 2008 drama also starred Amy Adams and the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman. The film received critical acclaim and all four actors earned Oscar nominations for their performances in the film. The nomination was especially impressive for Davis since she was only in the film for less than eight minutes.

How the ‘Big Little Lies’ alum managed to shock the ‘How to Get Away with Murder’ actor

But while Davis’ screentime may have been limited, she took advantage of the opportunity that she was given. She really made something great out of a very small part. Streep also seemed to take Davis’ role in the film seriously. In fact, she questioned Davis so much about her character that the How to Get Away With Murder alum was taken aback. In an interview with BAFTA Guru, Davis reflected on working with Streep on Doubt.

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“Meryl Streep, I’ve seen the way that woman conducts herself on the set,” Davis shared. “Her research, basically, is so extensive, you have no idea. Some of the questions she was asking during Doubt, I was in shock you know. Like ‘Viola, so where does your character come from? OK so who was your father? Did he have a union job or a non-union job?’ It’s amazing.”

Shailene Woodley also pointed out Streep’s attention-to-detail

Davis is far from the first actor who has worked with Streep to cite her attention to detail. While speaking with Magazine C, Shailene Woodley cited how detail-oriented Streep was when they worked together on Big Little Lies Season 2. “She is so passionate about what she does,” Woodley recalled about Streep. “That was the thing that really blew me away. She notices things that a lot of us fail to notice about the script [and] she knows every single person’s lines, not just her own.”

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Davis revealed what she learned by working with Streep

But Davis didn’t just take note of Streep’s unique approach to the craft of acting. She also paid attention to the way the acting veteran behaved on set. This, Davis shared, has influenced the way that she later behaved when she, herself, was the most important actor on the set.

“I see the way she conducts herself as a lady on the set,” Davis shared about her Doubt co-star. “She understands her responsibilities as number one on the call sheet to create an atmosphere that is comfortable enough for everyone to create. And I have observed that and I’ve used it.” Clearly, Davis and Streep have learned a lot from each other. It certainly would be interesting if the acting legends could collaborate on another project in the future.

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