Shonda Rhimes adds ‘Murder’ to her repertoire
BEVERLY HILLS — Shonda Rhimes is getting away with Thursday
Having given ABC two of TV’s and the night’s biggest hits, Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal, Rhimes is now getting a third Thursday hour to complete the evening: How to Get Away With Murder. Viola Davis stars as a law professor who brings a group of first-year law students into her orbit, with homicidal results.
So is Rhimes feeing like her plan for TV domination is finally coming to fruition? “I think I’m feeling like I’m going to work every day and we’re all doing our jobs. I don’t think I’m thinking of it in terms of the night. It’s exciting and it’s a great vote of confidence from ABC, and that’s great. But we have shows to make.”
This one, created by Pete Nowalk, is built around Davis’ Annalise Keating — who is smart, sexy and morally ambivalent at the very least. “I think I’m always confused when people say someone is morally questionable,” says Davis, about that possible criticism. “I think we’re all morally questionable. We so much act our instincts and not or morals. I found her very human.”
An Oscar-nominated actor for The Help and Doubt, Davis says she has had a healthy movie career, but it’s a career dominated by supporting roles. “I wanted to be the show. I wanted to have a character who took me out of my comfort zone.”
So when this one was offered, she says, “I did the only smart thing an actress would do and I took it. And I love that she’s messy and mysterious and she’s not particularly nurturing. …She’s a woman, she’s sexy, she’s vulnerable, and I feel extremely fortunate that I am alive and still active and this role came to me at this point in my life.”
Murder is slated to run 15 or 16 episodes. That would seem to be enough time to wrap up the first-season murder and launch a second one — but Nowalk warns that the season may not go in the direction you expect.
“Viola is very good at playing the mystery of it,” says Nowalk. “Obviously, we want to give people answers, but we’re also going for the subtlety. … The theme is that nobody is who they seem to be.”
Annalise certainly does seem to be very much in control, and a little intimidating. But no, she is not in any way, shape or form based on Rhimes. “It doesn’t feel autobiographical,” says Rhimes, “A, because I didn’t write it and it’s not about me. She’s not like me at all. I don’t know whether to be insulted.”
There will only be two broadcast dramas starring African-American women on the air, and Rhimes is producing both of them. But if she thinks that’s a big step forward, she’s not willing to say so. “I feel like the shows speak for themselves.”
Rhimes, by the way, had one of the best, and curtest, answers at Tuesday’s Television Critics Association presentation to someone who asked what the show was going for with its Twitter hashtag. “We don’t consider a hashtag when we’re writing.”
And yes, the look and the tone were murderous.
Source: USA Today