ABC Pilot Scoop: Viola Davis to Star in Shonda Rhimes' How to Get Away With Murder

Get More: Casting News, Pilots

Viola Davis How to Get Away With MurderTwo-time Oscar nominee Viola Davis is set to make a killing on the small screen as the star of ABC’s hour-long drama pilot How to Get Away With Murder, TVLine has learned.

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Exec-produced by Shonda Rhimes, Betsy Beers and Peter Nowalk, the project is a sexy, suspense-driven legal thriller that centers on ambitious law students and their brilliant and mysterious criminal defense professor (Davis) who become entangled in a murder plot that could rock their entire university and change the course of their lives.

Nowalk, who has written numerous Scandal episodes, will pen the Murder script.

Comments (36)

  • Game changer right there. Straight to series please!

    Comment by Tom – February 25, 2014 03:21 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I hoped Hugh Laurie would going to be part of the Shondaland & took the part of the prof, but I didn’t even know they were searching for a female prof. Viola is a fine actress, should be great.

    Comment by spindae2 – February 25, 2014 03:24 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • You clearly don’t know Shondaland very well. Of course the lead would be a female!
      As for Hugh Laurie, he is too much of a snob to accept to work for Shonda.

      Comment by Bailey – February 25, 2014 03:58 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
      • Sadly I didn’t meet either of them. ;-) Now that you say I realized that GA, PP and Scandal all had/have female leads. This is one of the rare ABC(and overall) pilots that got me interested. Either way I somehow saw Hugh fit this role really well, have no clue if he is a snob, I never even watched and interview with him but he is an excellent actor. I like so many things he has done besides House.

        Comment by spindae2 – February 25, 2014 04:07 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • This is going to be SO good! Viola Davis is an amazing actress and I’m sure she’ll get plenty of Emmy/Globes recognition with this role.

    Comment by Matt C. – February 25, 2014 03:26 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • This sounds awesome.

    Comment by tp – February 25, 2014 03:39 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Viola? Shondaland? Sign me up.

    Comment by Evan – February 25, 2014 03:40 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I will check this out.

    Comment by Lena – February 25, 2014 03:41 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Sounds good to me. I’ll watch!

    Comment by Teeny Bikini – February 25, 2014 03:46 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Talk about a casting coup. This is going straight to series and sounds great. Plus with the talent in front and behind the camera this just sounds great.

    Comment by Juan – February 25, 2014 03:50 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Although I’ve kind of grown tired of Shondaland, Viola Davis is phenomenal. Sounds like there is potential for her to be a Patty Hewes 2.0 figure. Hope there’s an Ellen Parsons-esque protege in her class.

    Comment by collectcall – February 25, 2014 03:52 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I have mixed feelings. I love Viola Davis’ work, but I have yet to like Shonda Rhimes series. Not one. I guess I’ll take a look and see if Davis’ work can overcome my aversion to Rhimes.

    Comment by Sable – February 25, 2014 04:00 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Agreed. Grey’s and Scandal are becoming more and more soup opera

      Comment by Alex – February 25, 2014 07:04 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • That sounds awesome!!!!! Hope we’ll see that show in the fall.

    Comment by Dani – February 25, 2014 04:01 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Shonda Rhimes = Hit
    I’m in. Can’t wait

    Comment by Haysheesh – February 25, 2014 04:09 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Wow, they really hit the jackpot luring Viola Davis to television. She is phenomenal.

    Comment by Brooke – February 25, 2014 04:17 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • It kinda reminds me of one of my fave Hitchcock movies, Rope.

    Comment by Simon – February 25, 2014 04:20 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Can’t wait! It sounds terrific!

    Comment by Bobbi (@BobbiNJ) – February 25, 2014 04:33 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Yes lawd yes I am so down.

    Comment by Mika02 – February 25, 2014 04:39 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • You can’t get better than this. Round of applause to the casting agents. My interest in this project has skyrocketed.

    Comment by Kaycee – February 25, 2014 04:41 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • How To Get Away With Murder, Secrets & Lies, and Warriors are the 3 strongest ABC drama pilots at this moment. All lead by solid, talented casts and intriguing premises.

    Comment by Matts – February 25, 2014 04:48 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I’d give it a try; I love Viola in everything. So a changed from Hugh Laurie to Viola Davis – this is how “color-blind casting” is supposed to work. They both are serious actors; no soap!

    Comment by herman1959 – February 25, 2014 05:17 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • No changes! Hugh Laurie was never considered. Why are people even bringing him up for a Shonda show?

      Comment by Brick – February 26, 2014 02:58 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • This one will go straight to the top of my watch list. Viola Davis is a terrific actress and I LIKE mystery shows!

    Comment by dragons3 – February 25, 2014 05:39 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • WOW, Primetime keeps getting better and better!!!!! VIOLA DAVIS sure sounds like a winner!!!!!

    Comment by bmarie3668 – February 25, 2014 05:40 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Sounds like a show I would definitelylike.

    Comment by snic86 – February 25, 2014 05:46 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • ABC is going all out for the pilots. I actually quite like a few of them.

    And Shonda stuff is always going to get a second look because of her hat trick with Grey’s, Private Practice and Scandal. In fact they said the Shonda factor got Scandal the renewal during it’s stable though relatively low rated first season.

    Comment by Jerry – February 25, 2014 06:33 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Smart move, because Scandal is a huge hit now.

      Comment by Lena – February 25, 2014 07:01 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Luv Viola!

    Comment by Marc – February 25, 2014 08:20 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Apparently the character played by Viola Davis will be having an affair, so I’ll not be watching. I’ll wait three seasons then jump on the bandwagon if I’m hearing great things about it. Kerry’s Olivia Pope is currently getting the worst writing ever right now, and I imagine it will be no different for Davis eventually. Then all the TV critics will start trying to replace her with her white co-stars as the central character. Similar to what’s currently happening in Scandal right now. The Mellie character is getting the best writing, and her pain and plight seems to be taking over the show, whilst Olivia is rendered mute even whilst going through some devastating stuff.

    Olivia gets choked by Huck, and there’s no consequences, Jake lands her in hospital, and there are no repercussions for that, Jake makes a sex tape of her, gives it to her father, and it is eventually seen by Charlie, Cyrus and Fitz, and nobody pays for that violation of her privacy. Mellie gets to continuously call her a whore, and nobody defends her, her parents are introduced into the show and both of them are monsters (Mommy’s a terrorist for God’s sake, wtf?) she’s outed by Fitz, and instead of dealing with how Olivia feels, we get to see Mellie plotting and scheming. Olivia never gets to say how she feels, whilst we’re being asked to feel sorry for Mellie over and over again in the biggest retconning job on TV ever.

    By season two, Viola’s character will probably start to be referred to as a whore.

    Nope, after Scandal, no more Shondaland for yours truly, no matter how much I love Viola Davis.

    Comment by Kendall – February 26, 2014 01:04 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Ok, you are clearly insane.

      Comment by Hannah – February 26, 2014 02:33 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • You are taking the show too seriously!

      Comment by shaka – February 27, 2014 10:51 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I Really like the story and Viola Davis is always great to watch.

    Comment by Daniel – February 26, 2014 03:34 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • sounds like a fun new show to watch.

    Comment by missteff – February 27, 2014 05:48 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • ……………… S U P E R …!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Comment by Georges – February 28, 2014 10:14 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Oooh, I just found out that the pilot will be filming in Philadelphia, PA’s City Hall Courtyard this weekend. Now, I’m even more interested.

    Comment by herman1959 – March 6, 2014 02:13 PM PDT  Reply To This Post

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