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

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.

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  1. Tom says:

    Game changer right there. Straight to series please!

  2. spindae2 says:

    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.

    • Bailey says:

      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.

      • spindae2 says:

        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.

  3. Matt C. says:

    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.

  4. tp says:

    This sounds awesome.

  5. Evan says:

    Viola? Shondaland? Sign me up.

  6. Lena says:

    I will check this out.

  7. Teeny Bikini says:

    Sounds good to me. I’ll watch!

  8. Juan says:

    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.

  9. collectcall says:

    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.

  10. Sable says:

    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.

  11. Dani says:

    That sounds awesome!!!!! Hope we’ll see that show in the fall.

  12. Haysheesh says:

    Shonda Rhimes = Hit
    I’m in. Can’t wait

  13. Brooke says:

    Wow, they really hit the jackpot luring Viola Davis to television. She is phenomenal.

  14. Simon says:

    It kinda reminds me of one of my fave Hitchcock movies, Rope.

  15. Can’t wait! It sounds terrific!

  16. Mika02 says:

    Yes lawd yes I am so down.

  17. Kaycee says:

    You can’t get better than this. Round of applause to the casting agents. My interest in this project has skyrocketed.

  18. Matts says:

    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.

  19. herman1959 says:

    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!

  20. dragons3 says:

    This one will go straight to the top of my watch list. Viola Davis is a terrific actress and I LIKE mystery shows!

  21. bmarie3668 says:

    WOW, Primetime keeps getting better and better!!!!! VIOLA DAVIS sure sounds like a winner!!!!!

  22. snic86 says:

    Sounds like a show I would definitelylike.

  23. Jerry says:

    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.

  24. Marc says:

    Luv Viola!

  25. Kendall says:

    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.

  26. Daniel says:

    I Really like the story and Viola Davis is always great to watch.

  27. missteff says:

    sounds like a fun new show to watch.

  28. Georges says:

    ……………… S U P E R …!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  29. herman1959 says:

    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.

  30. Sue Torrens says:

    Does my high school friend Ann Kindberg work on the new pilot “How to Get Away With Murder”?