USMagazine, Tuesday, February 21, 2012, 9:46am (PST)
As scene stealing maid Aibileen Clark in the 2011 smash drama The Help, Viola Davis quickly worked her way into moviegoers' hearts -- and put the Academy on notice.
Vying for her first Oscar trophy (she was nominated for 2008's Doubt), Davis will face off against Glenn Close, Rooney Mara, Meryl Streep and Michelle Williams at Sunday's 84th annual show. Before the big night, Us Weekly uncovers five fun facts you may not know about Davis.
1. She's wowed in designs by Jason Wu, Marchesa and Thierry Mugler at recent red carpet events, but Davis insists her put-together look is all an act. "I am not a glam woman," the actress confessed to Us at the Academy Awards Nominations luncheon earlier this month. "This is definitely a mask I put on for the public!" And don't expect to see Davis in any bathing suit photo shoots any time soon. "My biggest fear is that paparazzi with some lens is going to come in my backyard and see me when I get in my pool!" she joked to Us. "That would be very unfortunate!"
2. Adopting daughter Genesis with actor husband Julius Tennon in 2011, Davis has already set up her girl with a famous little guy. Asked if there's anyone she'd like Genesis to date when the time was right, the actress knew just who to pick: Sandra Bullock's son, Louis Bardo. "Louis would be the one," she has said.
3. Davis had major reservations about playing the character that would ultimately garner her much awards circuit attention. "I also had a lot of concerns about Aibileen [that] I wouldn't have had if I were playing Minny," Davis told Oprah Winfrey. "Ninety-eight percent of Aibileen's character happens in internal dialogue, which is the first thing that's cut from a movie. You can't bring the internal process to a character on the screen, and therefore what's left could definitely be perceived as a Mammy."
4. Known primarily for her stage work, one of the actress' favorite roles is her controversial gig as serial killer Terry Randolph on Law & Order: Criminal Intent. Taking on the role in 2002, Davis brought the character to life on her own terms. "I find when you seek the approval of other people, you're putting your joy in someone else's hands, and I can't do that," she told the St. Louis Dispatch. "I've had backlash playing a serial killer on Law & Order: Criminal Intent. Anthony Hopkins didn't, but I did. I have to follow my heart at the end of the day."
5. She's not afraid to crash at George Clooney's pad. In 2012, Davis told Entertainment Weekly that she and Tennon stayed at the actor's posh 22-room Lake Como villa in Italy to honeymoon after their 2003 wedding. But Clooney didn't hang around while Davis was in town. "I wasn't there," the actor said. "That was her request!"