The Woman King Trailer: Viola Davis Transforms for Brutal Historical Warrior Epic

Viola Davis is no stranger to transformations. In the past couple years alone, she’s played DC’s Amanda Waller, Ma Rainey and even Michelle Obama. But in the warrior epic “The Woman King,” the trailer for which dropped Wednesday, Davis plays a character unlike any she’s played before.

Davis stars in the film as Nanisca, the general of the real all-female military unit known as the Agojie (also known as Amazons) in the West African Kingdom of Dahomey (present-day Benin) in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. The story is inspired by true events and follows Nanisca and Nawi (Thuso Mbedu), an ambitious recruit, as they fight enemies who have enslaved their people and violated their honor. The unit is the inspiration behind the Dora Milaje in “Black Panther,” and its story has never been told on screen before.

Davis told Vanity Fair that she underwent serious training for the physically demanding role.

“We started intensely a few months before shooting — four hours a day, five days a week,” Davis said. “Weight training, sprinting, martial arts and weaponry training for the machete.”

The film is directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood, with Davis producing alongside Cathy Schulman, Julius Tennon and Maria Bello. The screenplay for the TriStar Pictures and Entertainment One film was written by Dana Stevens and Prince-Bythewood.

“I’ve never had a role like this before,” Davis told Vanity Fair. “It’s transformative. And to be a producer on it, and to know that I had a hand in bringing it to fruition…. There’s always a vision you have for your career, but there are very few roles as an actress of color. Dark skin with a wide nose and big lips. I’m just gonna continue to say it. Those stories are extraordinarily limited.”

“The Woman King” also stars Lashana Lynch, John Boyega, Adrienne Warren, Sheila Atim, Jayme Lawson, Hero Fiennes Tiffin, Masali Baduza, Angélique Kidjo, Jimmy Odukoya, Thando Dlomo, Jordan Bolger, Zozibini Tunzi, Makgotso M and Siv Ngesi.

“The Woman King” is set to be released in theaters on Sept. 16. Watch the full trailer for the film below.

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