Regrets? Viola Davis has had a few… and is brave to admit it | Rebecca Nicholson | Opinion

Plenty of people have regrets over past professional decisions. I have my doubts about the wisdom of trying out as a de facto shop security guard for one single, ill-advised shift, after it transpired that you couldn’t prevent shoplifting just by wishing customers wouldn’t nick things.

I might have been incorrect in declaring that the first ever episode of Broadchurch was so silly that it reminded me of a French and Saunders parody. Both wrong, in insignificant little ways, but in the public eye, when the subjects are serious and the impact wide-reaching, it’s always striking to hear people reassessing their old choices, because the freedom to do so seems increasingly rare.

Hayley Williams, lead singer of the pop-rock band Paramore, whom I am far too long in the tooth to love in the teen-fan way that I do, announced on stage that she would be retiring the 2007 single Misery Business from their live set. Its lyrics (“once a whore, nothing more”) have a tinge of catty spite that betrays her youth when she wrote it and she’s spoken before about being uncomfortable with its message now. Before giving it one last airing at a hometown show in Nashville, she dedicated it to “every bad decision that led us here… to all the embarrassing things we might have said, but we owned up to it and we grew”.

The inestimable Viola Davis recently offered a thoughtful examination of her Oscar-nominated turn as Aibileen in The Help in the New York Times. When asked about any regrets she had over roles that she had passed on, Davis turned the question. “Almost a better question is, ‘Have I ever done roles that I’ve regretted?’” she replied, going on to talk about her lack of ease with how The Help turned out. “I just felt that at the end of the day it wasn’t the voices of the maids that were heard,” she said.

The director Ava DuVernay tweeted her support, adding that she had worked as a publicist on the film, her last PR job, and that it gave her the push she needed to make her own movies.

These stories are vastly different, of course, but in their own ways they speak to an acknowledgment that choices can be, simply, complicated and changeable. In the act of documenting everything, social media has the curious effect of making opinions seem permanent and fixed, as if people don’t obviously, inevitably, change as time – and times – move on. These kinds of discussion feel like a tiny crack in the rigidity of such thinking.

It was the best of days for Mark Wahlberg, Hollywood hero

Mark Wahlberg: talk about an action man.



Mark Wahlberg: talk about an action man. Photograph: Anthony Harvey/Getty Images

There’s a whole genre of literature dedicated to enabling people who love lists, who shiver with contentment at the mere thought of ticking things off.

There are books dedicated to filling in themed lists, film or music or travel ones, where you can note down, for example, the best beaches you’ve been to or favourite movie duos. (There’s also Man List – subtitle: Every Man Needs a Good List – which sings with endless possibilities.) But here’s an idea for the next instalment, which should be called Typical Days (That Are Not So Typical) and should be dedicated to competing with Mark Wahlberg. For a list connoisseur, Wahlberg’s “typical day”, which went viral last week, is a thing of beauty and terror.

Wahlberg goes to bed early, because he wakes up at 2.30am. By the time he gets around to 11am “family time”, he has gone through a detailed roadmap of his every moment and has prayed, worked out, played golf, eaten several meals and snacks and enjoyed a period of “cryo chamber recovery”.

What I like about this list, other than the sheer impractical detail and devotion of it, is that it’s stark proof of how aspirational celebrity life is a total fantasy. I feel the same whenever an actress admits that they’re always hungry; in lieu of Hollywood not deferring to one kind of body, at least there’s an honesty in talking about the contortions it takes to fit into that system.

I don’t wish to compare myself to Wahlberg (not again!) but I have barely woken up my brain enough to decide whether to have cereal or toast by 11am. I guess that’s why he’s a renowned movie star and I’m still waiting for that call to lead the next Transformers movie.

Will Roger Daltrey’s plea fall on deaf ears?

Roger Daltrey: evidently, silence isn’t golden.



Roger Daltrey: evidently, silence isn’t golden. Photograph: Hannah Mckay/EPA

For many, the Who’s Roger Daltrey is a timeless rock’n’roll icon, a symbol of 60s rebellion and decadence, forever the snarling, sneering voice of My Generation.

To add to that, I also always think of him as a fish farmer, thanks to a long-running joke in Absolutely Fabulous. Daltrey told the Sun that he’s not so keen on the voices of female pop stars these days, owing to the fact that they use in-ear monitors, which, he suggests, makes them sing more quietly.

“It goes up into the head and starts coming through the nose and they sound like Mickey Mouse. I find it soulless because it’s not come from the heart.”

Daltrey makes an exception for Adele, as he did when he bemoaned the lack of “lead singers” in music in 2011, and for Ed Sheeran, whose “voice is so pure and powerful. He sings from the heart.”

I love Adele and have a soft spot for Sheeran, but it’s worth noting, apropos of nothing, that earlier this year at a show in Las Vegas, Daltrey also described himself as “very, very deaf” and urged people to wear earplugs, so as not to suffer the same fate.

Rebecca Nicholson is an Observer columnist

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