Training For The Woman King Was A Massive Undertaking For Viola Davis And The Cast

"The Woman King" was released back in September 2022 and tells the tale of a real-life group of all-female warriors called the Agojie. These women guarded the kingdom of Dahomey in West Africa during the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. Academy Award-winner Viola Davis ("Fences," "The Suicide Squad") plays the role of General Nanisca who is the trainer for a new generation of warriors. The film currently has some impressive numbers on Rotten Tomatoes with a 95% fresh rating from critics and 99% from audiences. Davis did a ton of physical training to prepare for this film. She recently visited the YouTube show "Hot Ones" to talk about it. 

If you haven't watched "Hot Ones" yet, it's a series hosted by Sean Evans. Celebrities come on to promote their projects and eat a series of successively hotter and hotter chicken or vegan wings as they're being interviewed by him. It's brilliant.

Davis got through quite a few wings before she showed even a hint of discomfort, by the way. It's worth a watch just for that alone.

A spicy chicken wing is nothing compared to this

At the beginning of the interview, Evans asks Davis about her feelings on shooting the big action sequences for the film. "It's fear," she says while eating her first wing. She continues:

"Because you have to toss 200 and something pounds of them over your shoulder. You're with swords. You're trying not to get hurt. We trained five hours a day, and we did all the stunts ourselves. No CGI. It was all us. And sprinting at 9:410, on a treadmill, by the way, and did I tell you I'm over 50? You know, once you get up there in the heart rate, you lose oxygen. And the fact that I'm sitting here right now eating hot wings and I'm still alive is a testament to the training for this movie!"

Davis also recently appeared on "The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon," saying of her training, "I was 56 when I trained to be this warrior: five hours a day, hour and a half of weight training, three and a half hours of martial arts (punching), 10.0 on the treadmill. And as I was running on that treadmill, I said 'I'm gonna have a damn heart attack.'" 

But she did not. She is a goddess. Davis also has some fascinating things to say during the "Hot Ones" interview about her approach to acting even in small roles, creating them as fully-realized human beings. If you want to see that in action, rewatch her short scene in "Doubt," which nabbed her an Oscar nomination.

"The Woman King" also stars Thuso Mbedu ("The Underground Railroad"), Lashana Lynch ("Captain Marvel"), and John Boyega ("Small Axe"). It is directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood ("Love & Basketball"), and is currently showing in theaters.