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Viola Davis Received The Most Unusual Pitch For The Woman King - Exclusive

It's fair to say that "The Woman King" might not have been made if not for Viola Davis. Not only is she the star of the film, playing the fierce Agojie general Nanisca, but she's one of its producers — and JuVee Productions, the company run by her and her husband Julius Tennon, is one of the studios behind the film. Davis has been attached to the project since 2015, long before this African history war epic had a director or an official green light.

Looper had the chance to speak with Davis and her co-star Thuso Mbedu ahead of the world premiere of "The Woman King" at the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival. We asked the film's lead actors how they reacted to first finding out about the movie, but Davis' story about how the movie was first pitched to her is far and away the most unusual and dramatic.

Davis was pitched the film at an awards ceremony

Viola Davis described the unusual circumstances of "The Woman King" pitch as such: "Maria Bello pitched it when she presented me with an award at Skirball Center at National History Museum for Women. Instead of introducing me, she pitched the movie to the audience. I'm telling you, the pitch itself had the same effect as the movie. Everyone stood up and cheered and hollered."

It's hard to think of other movies that were directly pitched to actors by awards presenters while presenting an award, let alone situations where such a pitch would be widely celebrated rather than seen as a distraction. But that's just how compelling the central premise of "The Woman King" is — and how perfectly suited Viola Davis is to playing the lead role — that this unorthodox pitch led to one of the most critically acclaimed action movies of 2022.

"The Woman King" is now playing in theaters.