Davis brings empathy and compassion to her portrayals of private, often emotionally guarded women who reveal themselves to be anything but ordinary. She says she's interested in characters who are going through the motions of life, much like her teacher in "Won't Back Down," and in exploring what it would take to wake them up.
"I do believe many of us catapult ourselves to the grave never having tapped in to what's extraordinary about ourselves," she muses. "We feel if we're not a world-class gymnast or a world-class actor or have the greatest body or have a reality TV show that there's nothing extraordinary about ourselves, which is not the case. I think we take all that potential and we just squelch it. I think it's interesting in all of these characters, what brings them back to life."
Davis has finished filming "Ender's Game" with Harrison Ford and Ben Kingsley and "Beautiful Creatures" with Emma Thompson and Jeremy Irons. Her future plans include starring in and producing a biopic about pioneering congresswoman Barbara Jordan.
For moviegoers, that should be another fascinating trip with Davis to the heart of a very human hero. "I always loved her, throughout my entire life," she says of Jordan. "Her absolutely unwavering passion about what it means to be American and the idea of protecting everybody's rights, it was absolutely real for her. It wasn't just for show. I think you're going to see that in this as well as the fragile parts of her that nobody knows, because she was such a private individual."
It's a role that fits her overall thoughts on playing heroes, whether they're unknown teachers or national leaders. "When you can somehow show what is human about them, so human and fragile about them, and how they're able to navigate their way through that, or not, and take on this heroic status, I think it's such a great dichotomy to work with as an actor."
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