Julia Roberts suggested to play Harriet Tubman by studio exec

27Nov - by bi - 0 - In Top Stories

If you were to think about the very out-of-left-field actress to play Harriet Tubman in a film, you still wouldn’t stumble upon the individual one executive allegedly suggested.

Harriet, the historical drama based on Tubman’s life released earlier this month, celebrities Cynthia Erivo. However, the movie’s screenwriter and producer, Gregory Allen Howard, says when he first started working on the film 1994 that one studio executive proposed Julia Roberts to portray the legendary slave turned abolitionist. Yeswhich Julia Roberts.

In a Q&A using Allen released earlier this month Harriet studio Focus Features (and reiterated in an L.A. Times essay published Tuesday), Allen recalled how”the climate in Hollywood… was very different” some 25 years ago.

“I was told how one studio leader said in a meeting,’This script is fantastic. Let’s get Julia Roberts to play Harriet Tubman,'” Allen explained. “When a person pointed out that Roberts couldn’t be Harriet, the executive responded,’It was so long past. Nobody will know the difference.'”

Jonathan Leibson/Getty Images; Corbis/Getty Images

Happily, for everybody involved, Roberts wasn’t cast as Tubman. Decades later, the movie has become a fact, which Allen stated is thanks to two groundbreaking films that changed the game.

“When 12 Years a Slave turned into a hit and also did a few hundred million dollars globally, ” I told my agent,’You can not say this kind of story won’t make money today.’ Subsequently Black Panther really blew the doors open,” Allen said.

The writer, who is also behind acclaimed films Remember the Titans and Ali, also discussed why he picked Erivoan African American British actress, to play an African American activist.

“I first saw her when the other producers flew to New York to watch her in The Color Purple,” Allen stated. “When she opened her mouth, I thought,’Yes, that is Harriet.’ Afterwards the other producers were emailed by me,’That is Harriet. She’s a tiny stick of dynamite.'”

Tubman’s story has been in a variety of stages of development in Hollywood; Viola Davis has been set to produce and star in this a biopic at the same point. The new film, directed by Kasi Lemmons, also stars Leslie Odom Jr., Joe Alwyn, and Janelle Monae.

Related content:

  • See Cynthia Erivo leap to liberty as Harriet Tubman in exclusive Harriet clip
  • How Cynthia Erivo fused soft love with’warrior spirit’ to lead Harriet Tubman biopic
  • Cynthia Erivo attracts an American star to imperfect life in earnest biopic Harriet