You seriously can’t make this stuff up … someone had the bright idea to suggest Julia Roberts for the role of Harriet Tubman. HARRIET TUBMAN!!!
“Harriet” is currently in theaters and critics agree the film’s star, Cynthia Erivo, completely embodies slave turned abolitionist Harriet Tubman. However, when the project was first pitched studio execs had another lead female in mind.
“Harriet” screenwriter Gregory Allen Howard revealed that during a pitch meeting more than 25 years ago an executive praised the project, but had this awful suggestion. “This script is fantastic. Let’s get Julia Roberts to play Harriet Tubman,” the nameless person told Howard. The exec was reminded that Harriet was a Black woman and, well, Julia is not — his response? “It was so long ago. No one is going to know the difference.” IKYFL!!!
Clearly (and thankfully), that idea never panned out, but the casting of Erivo was not without it’s own controversy. The British actress faced criticism for taking the role of an African-American woman, but Erivo told HH the most important part of the process for her was being able to tell this important stories and convey unknown information to the masses.