Five of Broadway’s finest actors are in the running for 2012 Academy Awards! In honor of their stellar work onscreen, Broadway.com is looking back at the most unforgettable stage roles of Oscar nominees Glenn Close, Viola Davis, Janet McTeer, Christopher Plummer and Meryl Streep. Check back each day for a different Oscar Watch feature, then tune in to ABC's live telecast on February 26, hosted by Broadway vet Billy Crystal, to find out which stage great will take home Hollywood's biggest prize.
VIOLA DAVIS, Best Actress Nominee for The Help
Seven Guitars (1996): Davis made her Broadway debut as the down-to-earth lover of a charismatic musician in August Wilson’s sprawling drama, set in Pittsburgh in 1948. A grounding presence in the play’s ensemble, she won a Theatre World Award and was one of four cast members nominated for Tony Awards in the featured categories.
Everybody’s Ruby (1999): As the title character in Thulani Davis’ fact-based play, Davis won an Obie Award for playing a woman accused of murdering the abusive white doctor who forced her to bear his child. Set in rural Florida in the early 1950s, the play presented Ruby’s impossible plight in a straightforward manner that critics found both riveting and heartbreaking.
King Hedley II (2001): The Broadway premiere of August Wilson’s most mystical script was generally considered something of a hot mess. (Subsequent productions have fared better.) But Davis again proved her mettle as the title character’s wife, winning the Best Featured Actress Tony for a performance that included a powerful monologue about motherhood.
Intimate Apparel (2004): Davis would have an additional Tony on her shelf if Lynn Nottage’s historical drama had opened on Broadway rather than at Roundabout’s Laura Pels Theatre. Cast as a turn-of-the-century seamstress who dreams of falling in love and owning a business, Davis made stage magic opposite Corey Stoll (Hemingway in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris) as her unlikely friend, an Orthodox Jewish fabric salesman.
Fences (2010): In her third August Wilson play, Davis gave a performance for the ages as Rose, the loyal wife of former baseball star Troy Maxson (Denzel Washington). Displaying the same strength she brought to The Help, Davis painted a portrait of love, grief and survival that brought her a richly deserved Best Actress Tony. (Washington won, too, spurred by his co-star’s greatness.)