Viola Davis admits she 'lost her mind' after landing Michelle Obama role in The First Lady

Viola Davis has shared her fears about playing Michelle Obama in the upcoming Showtime anthology

BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 03: Viola Davis joins L’Oréal Paris to celebrate the launch of Age Perfect Cosmetics on March 03, 2020 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Rachel Murray/Getty Images for L'Oréal Paris )
(Image credit: Rachel Murray/Getty Images for L'Oréal Paris)

Viola Davis has shared her fears about playing Michelle Obama in The First Lady, admitting that she initially panicked when she secured the job. 

In an interview on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Viola explained her reasons behind applying for the iconic role, as well as the anxious feelings that followed the acceptance. 

“I think it was temporary insanity,” she joked when asked by the veteran TV host why she decided to take on the challenge. “I lost my damn mind for about five minutes and I made a damn decision I can’t take back.” 

The Oscar-nominated actor will depict Michelle Obama’s incredible journey from college student to FLOTUS in the upcoming Showtime anthology, which will explore the private lives of the country's most famous First Ladies. According to Variety, the series will focus on the lesser-known East Wing of the White House, 'where many of history's most impactful and world-changing decisions have been hidden from view, made by America's charismatic, complex and dynamic First Ladies.' 

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Viola will be joined by Hollywood heavyweights Gillian Anderson and Michelle Pfeiffer, who have been cast as Eleanor Roosevelt and Betty Ford, respectively. 

Despite her initial apprehension, Viola has fully embraced the project and is now working on familiarizing herself with her character. She revealed she has even developed a relationship with Michelle, having spoken to her for ‘several hours’ since landing the role. 

TACOMA, WASHINGTON - MARCH 24: Michelle Obama speaks with a local book group about her book "Becoming" at the Tacoma Public Library main branch on March 24, 2019 in Tacoma, Washington. (Photo by Jim Bennett/Getty Images)

Michelle Obama has expressed her approval for Viola Davis casting 

(Image credit: Jim Bennett/Getty ImageS)

“The woman is a goddess,” she gushed. “Everybody knows her. Everybody feels like they want to protect her.” 

The Ma Rainey's Black Bottom star went on to praise Michelle for living up to her esteemed reputation in reality. "Sometimes, someone doesn't live up to whatever image you have of them in your head. But when they do live up to the image, it's quite frightening," she said. 

It doesn’t look like Viola has anything to be worried about, however. Michelle has already given her stamp of approval to the actor’s portrayal of her, telling Entertainment Weekly that “anything Viola does, she does it with passion and vigor, and I know she will do no less for this role."

The release date for The First Lady has yet to be confirmed, but with production already underway, it’s likely that the star-studded first season will hit our screens sometime next year. 

Emma Dooney
Lifestyle News Writer

Hailing from the lovely city of Dublin, Emma mainly covers the Royal Family and the entertainment world, as well as the occasional health and wellness feature. Always up for a good conversation, she has a passion for interviewing everyone from A-list celebrities to the local GP - or just about anyone who will chat to her, really.

Emma holds an MA in International Journalism from City, University of London, and a BA in English Literature from Trinity College Dublin.