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Viola Davis opens up about playing Michelle Obama: ‘I lost my damn mind’

The acclaimed actress will portray a fellow icon on the small screen

Viola Davis credits “temporary insanity” for her decision to sign on as Michelle Obama in the new Showtime series The First Lady. The 55-year-old A-lister paid a virtual visit to The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, where she told the funnyman how intimidating it is to bring such a beloved person to life onscreen. Showtime announced that they picked up the anthology series back in February, with Davis onboard.

Scroll to watch the full chat!

When Fallon questioned if the star if she loves challenging herself by taking on such high pressure roles she candidly responded: “I don’t know. I think it was temporary insanity. I lost my damn mind for about five minds and made a damn decision that I can’t take back.”

Viola Davis and Chadwick Boseman in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom on Netflix©Netflix
Viola Davis spoke to Jimmy Fallon after getting nominated for an Oscar for Ma Rainey‘s Black Bottom

Davis called Obama “a goddess,” adding: “Everybody knows her, everybody feels like they gotta protect her.” She also said that Obama lives up to the expectation you have built up in your head. At the end of the day, the How To Get Away With Murder alum said she’s going to do what she always advises her daughter to do. “Here’s the thing: I’m just gonna do the best I can.”

The Oscar winner is fortunate on two fronts. First, because she has access to the former First Lady. In fact, they spoke for several hours after she took on the role. The acting titan is also lucky because Mrs. O has given far beyond her stamp of approval.

Michelle is a huge fan of the award-winning actress. So much so that she has a similar feeling to Davis on the whole situation. “I feel that I‘m not worthy,” she told Entertainment Tonight. ”I wish I could be better to live up to the character that Viola has to play, but it’s exciting. Anything Viola does, she does it with passion and vigor, and I know she will do no less for this role.”

In the series Davis, who also serves as a producer, will be joined by O. T. Fagbenle as Barack Obama and Little Fires Everywhere breakout Lexi Underwood as their daughter Malia Obama. The highly-anticipated has already generated lots of buzz with its star-studded casting choices. Other big names include Michelle Pfeiffer, Aaron Eckhart, Gillian Anderson and Dakota Fanning.

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