Viola Davis and Tuso Mbedu on the Role of Women Kings

You both kick ass in this movie. How was the training?

Davis: Cruel. Let me find a good word for this: brutal. Did I say cruel?

Mbedu: Let me say it again. Cruel.

Davis: I literally said to myself, “This is not going to work. We need to sit down with everyone so I can tell them this isn’t going to work. I can’t increase my heart rate like that because I’m going to have a stroke.” , I’m over 50. Weightlifting… Because they wanted me to put on weight, Gabriela McLane, our trainer, showed me a picture of a woman with muscles on her shoulders. I said, “Gaby, this won’t work.” She said, “Oh Viola, this will work. Okay, come on. Let’s start”.

He got heavier and heavier until he was 40 kg. [for an] hour and a half days. Three and a half hours of martial arts, weapons training, punches, kicks, shoulder…

Mbedu: Combat training.

Davis: Yeah – combat training, sprinting on a treadmill … Listen, the maximum that I ran on a treadmill – and I was proud of myself when I was over thirty, at the beginning of forty – is 7.4. [mph]. I could run for about 40 minutes and I thought it was cool. I was 9.4, 9.4, 10 on the treadmill for three seconds.

Mbedu: I’ll take those three seconds any day.

Davis: It was cruel.

Mbedu: I went from fighting two and a half pounds, literally saying, “Gaby, I can’t,” to lifting 20-30 pounds. But it didn’t go from zero to a hundred. It took work, it took discipline, it took commitment. It took tears—real tears. Gaby made me cry.

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