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Viola Davis is a star. Now all she needs is a starring role

Photograph by Robert Maxwell for TIME

Viola Davis is nothing like any of her characters, at least when she's talking. But she listens the way they do: intently, actively, letting you know all the things she's thinking. By communicating as much through her silences as her dialogue, she's able to create hard-ass characters in brutal situations whom you don't pity but instead understand. She used that skill as the steely mother in 2008's Doubt, turning one scene opposite Meryl Streep into an Oscar nomination. She did it on Broadway last year as the reticent wife in August Wilson's Fences, winning a Tony and outshining her co-star Denzel...

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