Viola Davis drew on the "fears" she was left with after being sexually assaulted for her performance in 'The Woman King'.

The 57-year-old actress has spoken in the past of how she and her four sisters were assaulted by various men growing up in poverty in Rhode Island and she recalled those experiences for a powerful scene in the movie where her character, Nanisca, ambushes General Oba at a slave market in an attempt to provoke war.

She said: “Every time I approached Oba. I was approaching the man who sexually assaulted me. I was not just approaching the enemy. Listen, the things that have taken the strongest human being down have been a traumatic memory that they could not fight through.

“I’m talking about Nanisca, but I talk about Viola in terms of facing my fears too, every single day … Every woman who has been sexually assaulted knows exactly what I mean at that moment.”

And Viola recognised the female bonds of the warriors in the movie with the one she shares with her sisters, who she refers to as her "platoon".

She told the Guardian newspaper: “Here’s the thing: we’re sisters, the Agojie are sisters. That’s not the mentality of just hanging out, doing some shopping and having an Aperol spritz. It is a spirit of literally going into battle, and it’s for the love of each other that you’re fighting.

“I don’t see Nanisca as an action hero. She is a woman who is a warrior.”

The 'How to Get Away with Murder' actress sees her latest movie - which she was also one of the producers of - as the "ultimate gift" because it has finally given her "agency".

She explained: “I arrived in Hollywood having hopes and dreams for my career, but never quite having ownership or agency.

“'The Woman King' has seemed like the ultimate gift and conduit to give me that agency.”