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Viola Davis Details The Intense Environment Of The Woman King's Battle Scenes

"The Woman King" is a triumphant visit to the Kingdom of Dahomey in 19th-century West Africa. Starring Viola Davis as Nanisca, the general of the all-female group of elite warriors sworn to protect the King of Dahomey, the film is a powerful tale of both individual struggles and the struggles of an entire kingdom and how they come together to ensure a better future.

Weaving in themes of heartbreak, redemption, and strength, "The Woman King" is captivating from start to finish. Paralleling the characters' journeys of self-discovery to the Kingdom of Dahomey shaping itself for the better, the film is likely to leave a lasting emotional impression on anyone who watches it. But while it is story-driven, "The Woman King" is about an elite group of female warriors, known as the Agojie. To gloss over the intense action and overwhelming danger that these powerful women faced throughout the entirety of the film would be an oversight. Each battle feels authentic and raises the stakes for the Agojie. And even an actor as seasoned as Viola Davis had a number of things to say about the intensity of the action sequences.

Viola Davis describes the battle scenes with a single word

"It's fear," Viola Davis said while describing the environment on the set of "The Woman King" during an episode of "Hot Ones." During the interview, she repeated this word several times, driving the point home that the authenticity behind the battles the Agojie faced in "The Woman King" was hard-earned.

Sean Evans, the host of "Hot Ones," pointed out during the interview that there are hundreds of extras on set at a time, especially when prepping for and shooting confrontations on such a massive scale. This prompted Davis to respond, "The environment is just complete and total fear. Like, when we shot the first village rage scene — that's what it's called — it was two o'clock in the morning ..."

Davis paused to enjoy her hot wings, but she continued to describe the whirlwind of emotion on set. "You have to, like, toss 200-something-pound men over your shoulder," she elaborated. "You're with, you know, swords, you're trying not to get hurt." When put into perspective, it makes sense that the performers would be a bit terrified. Davis admitted that they trained five hours a day to prepare and stay in shape for the film, but even with all the preparation in the world, the daunting task of bringing these clashes to life had Davis shaking.

"We did all the stunts ourselves," Davis proudly proclaimed. "No CGI. It was all us." Given the authentic approach they took to tackling the battle scenes, it's no surprise that the environment on set was just as intense.