Why Hope Davis Was 'Excited' to Play a Crime Boss on 'Your Honor' (Exclusive)
By Stacy Lambe
Hope Davis has been recognized for her varied work across film, stage and television, earning Emmy nominations for playing a patient on the HBO series In Treatment and portraying Hillary Clinton in the Peter Morgan limited series The Special Relationship while sharing ensemble wins at the Gotham and Independent Spirit Awards for Synecdoche, New York. She even most recently played Anna Kendrick’s mother in the HBO Max anthology rom-com Love Life.
But there’s one thing the 56-year-old actress never had a chance to do until now, as one of the stars of the hit Showtime series Your Honor. “I don't think I’ve ever played a role before that people would be afraid of. You know, a character that other people would fear,” Davis tells ET.
She adds, “I don’t usually play the baddie. So it was a really delicious opportunity to try to do that.”
On the legal thriller adapted from the Isreali series Kvodo, Davis plays Gina Baxter, a New Orleans-based crime boss alongside her husband, Jimmy (Michael Stuhlbarg), whose youngest son was killed in a hit-and-run by Adam (Hunter Doohan), the son of judge Michael Desiato (Bryan Cranston). While Michael is busy cleaning up the pieces, hoping that maniacal Jimmy doesn’t realize Adam is behind his family’s sudden loss, Gina may prove the one everyone should be afraid of as she starts to put the pieces together.
“The Baxter couple really lay all of their cards on the table and do what they do best, which is to create fear and confusion and to seize power and to control the narrative,” Davis says, adding that while Gina is initially in shock, she eventually launches into action and pushes Jimmy to take care of things.
While certainly a grieving mother in the beginning, Gina proves to be more than a tired TV trope as she starts to pull strings behind the scenes as Your Honor unfolds. With the limited series now halfway through its 10-episode run, audiences are getting to see the darker sides of Gina, especially as she starts to take more action -- and lashes out at Jimmy and others for not doing enough.
One great scene in episode three that shows Gina’s power and grace is when she’s at her son’s funeral and her other son has been temporarily released from prison. Accessorized with a lengthy veil, she walks up to the police who are holding him in handcuffs and chains and demands he be allowed to join her during the service.
“Don’t you put your hands on me,” she tells the police before embracing her only living son.
“There was no plan for me to wear a veil, but when I was in New Orleans I went to a lot of Catholic mass and noticed women in there with veils on,” Davis recalls being surprised to see the accessory still being worn before bringing it up to the costume designer. “I said, ‘Could I wear one of those very old-fashioned lace mantillas?’ And they loved the idea.”
A brief moment in the episode, it’s enough to show that she’s not a typical character.
“They made it clear that she’s not just going to be the mom waiting for people to come home,” Davis says of creator Peter Moffat and executive producers Robert and Michelle King, adding that they referred to her character as Lady Macbeth. “And that was exciting to hear.”
Also exciting for Davis and the rest of the team is the fact that the series debuted to record ratings for Showtime, topping the premiere of The Comey Rule.
When asked why she thinks audiences are gravitating toward the show, the actress says that “it certainly speaks to a lot of issues that we’ve all been talking about in the last year. You know, racism, privilege, corruption, the truth and lying.”
Davis also acknowledges people wanted to see Cranston on TV again. “It doesn’t take much more.”
While launched as a limited series, there’s always potential for another season, especially if it resonates with audiences. “Anything is possible,” Cranston recently revealed to ET, adding that “if the audience is there, if Showtime says, we want to do another one… and then it's about the story and what would we do in a second season.”
Davis is particularly hopeful about returning. “We’d all do it again,” she says.
Your Honor airs Sundays at 10 p.m. ET on Showtime. Episode five is available to stream and On Demand starting Thursday, Dec. 31.