Viola Davis Viola Davis

The star of ABC's new Shonda Rhimes drama How to Get Away with Murder is a far cry from Olivia Pope.

While Scandal's go-to political fixer may make some questionable choices, Olivia always wears a white hat in her quest for justice. Not so Annalise Keating (Oscar nominee Viola Davis), the mysterious attorney and law professor at the center of Murder. She's a brilliant educator who challenges her ambitious students with real-world legal assignments. They worship her, which is why, by the end of the show's first episode, they find themselves entangled in a murder mystery that appears to be of their professor's design.

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But it might be too soon to blame everything on Annalise. "We are all morally questionable," Davis told reporters at the Television Critics Associations' fall previews on Tuesday. "I found her to be a realistic protagonist. I found her to be very human, as we all are, that we all have grey areas." Series creator Pete Nowalk agrees. "The theme of the show is that no one is who they seem to be," he said. "Whether [Annalise is] morally questionable or not, it just goes to the heart of the character, who she is and what she's been through."

"The real adventure with this character is peeling back the onion and finding out what drives her to this place," he continues. "It's not so black and white to her. Justice is very complicated and the justice system is much more corrupt than you would think it would be. In a certain way, Annalise feels like she's being moral. She's just standing up for the people who don't get stood up for a lot."

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Murder depicts Keating through the eyes of her students, whose allegiances flag as their homework becomes more complicated... and less legal. "She's always a mystery. She does things that sometimes we don't really have perspective on," Nowalk says. "She's the center of a mystery basically for all of our people to wonder about and our audience to wonder about her real motivations."  

How to Get Away With Murder premieres Thursday, Sept. 25 at 10/9c, after the premieres of Grey's Anatomy and Scandal.