Viola Davis gushes about playing "goddess" Michelle Obama in showtime's The First Lady

Kayleigh Roberts
·2-min read
Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images

Viola Davis couldn't be happier to be playing Michelle Obama.

The actress is portraying the former first lady in the upcoming Showtime anthology series The First Lady and she took the opportunity to gush about the role during a virtual appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon on Friday.

When Fallon asked if Davis has had the chance to speak with Obama since she took on the part, the 55-year-old actress confirmed that she and Obama have talked "for several hours" as she's prepared for the role. Still, no amount of prep can stop the anxiety that comes with playing someone as iconic as Michelle Obama—even for an actress as accomplished and talented as Davis.

"And it's terrifying because....sometimes someone doesn't live up to whatever image you have in your head. But when they do live up to the image, it's quite frightening," Davis admitted, according to People. "It really is."

Playing someone who lives up to their incredible image, like Obama does, is the terrifying part, of course. Davis told Fallon it might have been temporary insanity that convinced her to say yes to the intimidating part.

"I lost my damn mind for about five minutes and made a damn decision that I can't take back," she joked. "Because [Michelle] is a goddess. And everybody knows her, everybody feels like they want to protect her....Here's the thing. I'm just gonna do the best I can. That's what I say to my daughter. I say, 'Genesis, let me tell you something. Mommy is doing the best she can,' so that's it."

The respect and admiration between Davis and Obama goes both ways. During a recent interview with Entertainment Tonight, Obama made it clear she's equally thrilled about the casting.

"I feel that I'm not worthy. I wish I could be better to live up to the character that Viola has to play, but it's exciting," she said. "Anything Viola does, she does it with passion and vigor, and I know she will do no less for this role."

O-T Fagbenle will costar with Davis as Barack Obama in the series, which will delve into the lives of several iconic first ladies during its first season, including Obama, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Betty Ford.

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