movies: the help

telegraph.co.uk
Viola Davis reveals she has 'a lot of issues' with her 2011 civil rights drama The Help
Viola Davis has spoken out about problems she had with The Help, the Civil Rights drama that won her an Oscar nomination in 2012, criticising the decision to sanitise the pain of the era in which it was set by leaving many of the film's tougher, more dramatic scenes on the cutting room floor.

Extremely important to read and consider, especially as The Help was so highly regarded as a progressive landmark in Hollywood for African-American women - though not necessarily by them.

“I absolutely love the premise,” she said. “I love the fact that [Emma Stone’s character] said ‘I am going to write a story from the maids’ perspective of what it feels like to work with these white women’. Operative term meaning the maids’ perspective. I don’t feel like it was from our perspective, that’s the problem I had with it. I had it from the very beginning.

While she criticised aspects of the film she felt to be historically inaccurate (including the maids rejecting money for their stories, despite the film depicting them struggling to find scraps for food), she mostly condemned the sanitising of pain in order to make the film more palatable to mainstream audiences.

“The anger, the vitriol, and the hatred that they would have towards these white women if they were asked, if they were put in a situation where they were isolated, would have been vocalised. You didn’t see none of that!”

4

“The scene where I was eating fried chicken, they made me vegan fried chicken. They did an amazing job. They took a turkey dog and tofurky and battered it, and deep fried it. I haven’t had meat in so long. I’ve been vegan for five years and vegetarian for 15 years, so if I had had meat, I wouldn’t have been able to do the scene. They all thought I was just chowing down.” - Jessica Chastain

8

Every day you’re not dead in the ground, when you wake up in the morning, you’re gonna have to make some decisions. Got to ask yourself this question: “Am I gonna believe all them bad things them fools say about me today?” You hear me? “Am I gonna believe all them bad things them fools say about me today? You hear me today?” All right? As for your mama, she didn’t pick her life. It picked her. But you, you’re gonna do something big with yours. You wait and see. The Help (2011)

Jessica Chastain photographed by Joey L.

8

“I don’t mind if the character is a small character, but I would just like her to have a journey in the film. Sometimes the characters are just there as a prop to further the man’s story. The great directors I’ve talked to, I’ve said listen, I don’t mind playing a woman that is a tiny part, but how does the story affect her? What can I play in the end that’s different from the beginning? Otherwise, it doesn’t make sense, because it’s just like being a prop.”
 — Jessica Chastain