Denzel directed the big screen adaptation of August Wilson's Pulitzer Prize winning play of the same name, reprising his role as sanitation worker Troy Maxon opposite his Broadway co-stars Viola, actors Stephen Henderson, Russell Hornsby and Mykelti Williamson. The pair took home the awards for best lead actor and actress at the 2010 Tony Awards, which Viola – as Troy’s wife, Rose – is hoping to convert into Oscar gold later this month (Feb17). And Denzel is adamant that Viola deserves to win the best supporting actress gong.

"The first time I worked with Viola she only had one line. But she's powerful. She came into read for Antwone Fisher and I was like who is this?," he told theatre director Paulette Randall during a Q&A at London's National Theatre, as he recalled the first time he met Viola at an audition.

"So when I saw Viola I was like... and this was 17 years ago and I didn't know her from Adam, she came and she didn't even read because she only had one line."

When asked what he thinks distinguishes Viola the most as an actor he praised, "She just has that power. This is that rare time when the actor meets the role, yeah this is her turn. Yeah, she better win!", he insisted - to huge applause from the audience.

Denzel is hoping it will be third time lucky for the 51-year-old actress, who was nominated in both 2009 and 2012 for her roles in movies Doubt and The Help.

Viola took home the Golden Globe in January (17) for Best Supporting Actress for her work in Fences, after her fifth nomination for both her film and TV work.

“I took all the pictures and went to the luncheon, but it’s right on time,” she joked upon accepting the award. “To all the people who believed in this piece of work. It’s not every day that Hollywood thinks of translating a play to screen. It doesn’t scream money maker. But it does screams art. It does scream heart,” she explained before thanking Denzel for "being an extraordinary leader, great actor, great director. Thank you for saying trust me, and remember the love.”