'Harriet' Screenwriter Reveals Studio Exec Once Suggested Julia Roberts to Play Harriet Tubman

  
Via:  buzz-of-the-orient  •  3 weeks ago  •  21 comments

By:   Abid Rahman

'Harriet' Screenwriter Reveals Studio Exec Once Suggested Julia Roberts to Play Harriet Tubman

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T


'Harriet' Screenwriter Reveals Studio Exec Once Suggested Julia Roberts to Play Harriet Tubman

In a recent interview, Gregory Allen Howard said that when challenged on the casting, the Hollywood exec who allegedly floated the idea said, "It was so long ago. No one is going to know the difference."


julia_roberts_cynthia_erivo-harriet_spli

(L-R) Julia Roberts and Cynthia Erivo in 'Harriet'  ( Tommaso Boddi/FilmMagic; Glen Wilson/Focus Features)

A Hollywood studio executive once suggested the idea of Julia Roberts playing the iconic abolitionist and activist Harriet Tubman in a biopic, according to   Harriet  screenwriter Gregory Allen Howard.

In a   recent interview  that has gone viral on social media, Howard was asked about the production history of the long-gestating Tubman biopic, which became   Harriet.   The scribe said it was his first Hollywood assignment and that it had been in development for 26 years. "I wanted to turn Harriet Tubman's life, which I’d studied in college, into an action-adventure movie. The climate in Hollywood, however, was very different back then. I was told how one studio head said in a meeting, "This script is fantastic. Let's get Julia Roberts to play Harriet Tubman.""

Howard adds: "When someone pointed out that Roberts couldn’t be Harriet, the executive responded, "It was so long ago. No one is going to know the difference.""

Later in the same passage, Howard says that the production of   Harriet   was helped by the recent success of films with black themes and black actors. "Two films really changed the climate in Hollywood to allow Harriet to be made. When   12 Years a Slave   became a hit and did a couple hundred million dollars worldwide, I told my agent, “You can't say this kind of story won’t make money now.” Then   Black Panther r eally blew the doors open," Howard said. 

Directed by Kasi Lemmons,   Harriet   stars British actress Cynthia Erivo as Harriet Tubman, the abolitionist and political activist who was born into slavery but escaped and helped rescue 70 people from similar circumstances using what became known as the Underground Railroad. The film also stars Janelle Monae, Leslie Odom Jr., Joe Alwyn, Clarke Peters and Vanessa Bell Calloway. 

BUZZ NOTE:  There is a video on the movie at the end of the article that I cannot open.  So click on the "SEEDED CONTENT" link above in order to go to the original article if you wish to watch the video.

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Buzz of the Orient
1  seeder  Buzz of the Orient    3 weeks ago

This article brought to my mind a scene from the movie "Remember the Titans". when a white football player was a patient in the hospital, and his black friend tried to get in to see him - the nurse said that only family was permitted to visit, and the white patient shouted, "He's my brother, can't you see the resemblance?"

 
 
 
Paula Bartholomew
1.1  Paula Bartholomew  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @1    3 weeks ago

He didn't shout it, but it is my favorite scene in the movie.

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
1.1.1  seeder  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  Paula Bartholomew @1.1    3 weeks ago

Okay, he didn't SHOUT it, but he said it with a raised voice.  LOL

I can't decide if my favourite scene was when Denzell's neighbours were applauding him and he carried his daughter and danced in the street, when he threw the banana at the opposing coach, or when the police officer sitting in his car said it was the best defence he'd ever seen in 20 years of watching the games.

 
 
 
Paula Bartholomew
1.1.2  Paula Bartholomew  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @1.1.1    3 weeks ago

All in all, it was a great movie, especially the Mama jokes.

 
 
 
JohnRussell
2  JohnRussell    3 weeks ago
Howard adds: "When someone pointed out that Roberts couldn’t be Harriet, the executive responded, "It was so long ago. No one is going to know the difference.""

They have a lot of good drugs in Hollywood. 

 
 
 
Paula Bartholomew
2.1  Paula Bartholomew  replied to  JohnRussell @2    3 weeks ago

What next...Liam Hemsworth in the role of Sidney Portier in his bio pic?

 
 
 
1stwarrior
2.1.1  1stwarrior  replied to  Paula Bartholomew @2.1    3 weeks ago

How 'bout Woody Allen as Morgan Freeman?

 
 
 
Kavika
3  Kavika     3 weeks ago

Burt Lancaster played Jim Thorpe. Peter Lorrie played Charlie Chan. Johnny Debb played Tonto so what's the problem.../s

Whites have a long history of playing minorities in movies. 

 
 
 
JohnRussell
3.1  JohnRussell  replied to  Kavika @3    3 weeks ago

John Wayne as a Mongolian was a good one

movies-john-wayne-gengis-khan.jpg

 
 
 
Paula Bartholomew
3.1.1  Paula Bartholomew  replied to  JohnRussell @3.1    3 weeks ago

Even my husband who was the ultimate John Wayne fan said the movie sucked hind tit.  On top of the worse career move Wayne ever made, due to the location where the movie was shot, both he and Hayward developed cancer which eventually killed them both.

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
3.2  seeder  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  Kavika @3    3 weeks ago

If they had asked Julia to play it in blackface I'm sure she would have refused.  

You're right about the history, but I watch a LOT of movies, and that's not the case any longer.  For example, Morgan Freeman has played God, American Presidents, brilliant detective, acclaimed novelist, master crook, CEO of a huge corporation, etc etc etc  So we need not think of him as only being an imprisoned murderer in Shawshank Pen.

 
 
 
Tacos!
3.3  Tacos!  replied to  Kavika @3    3 weeks ago
Whites have a long history of playing minorities in movies

It's goes the other way too, especially in comic book movies.

Zendaya EIAREylUcAYiVhV.jpg  played Mary Jane 123733-hr_1024x1024.jpg?v=1564414018 ,

Idris Elba image?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwinteriscoming.n played Heimdall heimdall-comics-6ce81630-a11d-4cce-ab4f- ,

Samuel L. Jackson Samuel-L-Jackson.jpg played Nick Fury 4cfc45adc039f012ceb30fddf015d258.png ,

Michael B Jordan 2018-05-12-_Cannes-L%27acteur_Michael_B.  played Johnny Storm a739184c67fc0357b5df4fdd247b2c3e.jpg ,

Quvenzhané Wallis 602a0624-prem.jpeg?1498675371  played Lil Orphan Annie JFYOJKS5SCYSIKLOT42WRM3KMI.jpg ,

Billy Dee Williams bill-dee-williams-3.jpg  played Harvey Dent b619c0f9e99ca54c2d7a1141ee1d07b8.jpg

There's a lot more actually. For some characters, their race isn't really important to their character. For others, it can be very important. Most of the ones above are pretty interchangeable. 

Then again, what do we make of this? Here's an English white woman playing a character that has always been an asian man. Should we be encouraged by the gender fluidity or offended by the whitewashing?

Tilda Swinton avengers-endgame-tilda-swinton-ancient-o  as the Ancient One fvywiepwl9qbven5d4ih.jpg

 
 
 
Kavika
3.3.1  Kavika   replied to  Tacos! @3.3    3 weeks ago

Interesting that the people of color actually played fictional or comic book characters. On the other side, it was whites mostly playing real people. 

 
 
 
Paula Bartholomew
3.3.2  Paula Bartholomew  replied to  Tacos! @3.3    3 weeks ago

Tommy Lee Jones took over the role for Billy Dee Williams' portrayal of Harvey Dent in Batman. Joel Schumacher disliked the idea of having Williams play Two-Face.

 
 
 
Dean Moriarty
3.3.3  Dean Moriarty  replied to  Kavika @3.3.1    3 weeks ago

How about Chappelle as a white guy. 

 
 
 
Kavika
3.3.4  Kavika   replied to  Dean Moriarty @3.3.3    3 weeks ago

LOL, the poor white guy looks like a nerd with a lil cigarette peter...jrSmiley_10_smiley_image.gif

 
 
 
Paula Bartholomew
3.3.5  Paula Bartholomew  replied to  Tacos! @3.3    3 weeks ago

How about Diana Ross as Dorothy in the Wiz?

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
3.3.6  seeder  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  Paula Bartholomew @3.3.5    3 weeks ago

But The Wiz was supposed to be a takeoff with black players.  Would you have whites playing Porgy and Bess?

 
 
 
Paula Bartholomew
3.3.7  Paula Bartholomew  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @3.3.6    3 weeks ago

So was Annie, but I see your point.

 
 
 
Paula Bartholomew
3.4  Paula Bartholomew  replied to  Kavika @3    3 weeks ago

 Swedish actor Warner Oland was the most noted actor to play Chan.

 
 
 
1stwarrior
3.5  1stwarrior  replied to  Kavika @3    3 weeks ago

They do it 'cause they're jealous as hell.

 
 
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