Viola Davis, Gillian Anderson, and Michelle Pfeiffer on the Challenge of Playing Political Icons in 'The First Lady'

Viola Davis, Gillian Anderson, and Michelle Pfeiffer on the Challenge of Playing Political Icons in  ...

"It's just a challenge," she said of why she's so drawn to playing real-life scenes instead of completely fictional projects. "A challenge that brings you back to the work, brings you back to your process, scares you a lot, reminds you why you wanted to be an actor. It's not about failure or success, c'est about just doing it to remind yourself that you can be brave."

Davis releases another installment of that wacky series on April 17. Created by Aaron Cooley and directed by Susanne Bier, the series focuses on Michelle Obama, Betty Ford, and Eleanor Roosevelt in interweaving scenes that get the roof of the White House back to us for a more intimate and revealing look.

On Thursday night, Showtime presented the first look at The First Lady, which included three actors: Kiefer Sutherland, Dakota Fanning, O.T. Fagbenle, Judy Greer, and Gloria Reuben (who arrived with Aaron Sorkin), Kristine Froseth, Shannon Purser, Regina Taylor, and Derek Cecil.

Before the screening, Cooley traced the roots of his novel, Four Seats: A Thriller of the Supreme Court. "One of the main characters is a first lady who assists select Supreme Court nominees because she has a law background like Mrs. Obama and Hillary Clinton. "I realized that this is how long this process takes six years from looking at a blank page until today and most [shows] never arrive. So I feel blessed."

Cathy Schulman, an Oscar-winning producer, was incredibly pleased with the outcome. Before revealing how she learned from her travels, she said, "I just wanted everybody to understand the show." But, in return, she said, "I've made a difference in the way she did her work."

Schulman discusses why the first season of the series focuses on three key stories via Obama, Ford, and Roosevelt. "We started with the theme of voice. What does it take to be heard? "What does it take to have a voice as a woman?" she explains.

Pfeiffer admitted to THR that she was digging into her archives. "I read every book she wrote about her, what she taught, and how she examined everything," said the actress. "I learned a lot of information about Betty Ford, probably because [Gerald Ford] wasn't in the White House that long, but she accomplished it in that short amount of time."

Ford's achievements include increasing awareness about breast cancer (after her own battle), addiction, women's reproductive health, mental illness, and more. "She saved hundreds of thousands of lives," Pfeiffer said.

Anderson said that she did a deep dive, mirrored others she has performed to play political icons like Margaret Thatcher on The Crown. And, for me, it's important to begin from the beginning, knowing who they are from the moment they're on this planet, according to Anderson. "And then, then, just learn as much, watch as much, and listen to as much as possible. There's a certain point where you have to kind of let that go, and remember that it's still there for you to use

Davis would offer up how she feels about Obama after surviving in her shoes.

I feel very protective of her, said the talent who led the team alongside Julius Tennon, Bier, Cooley, Andrew Wang, Pavlina Hatoupis, Jeff Gaspin, and Brad Kaplan. I don't know if that's always a case for people who portray others, but a huge part of that is for me, because we both are Black women. It's very rare that Black women are portrayed at this level, and so I felt very protective of all who she is.

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