We all know Hollywood likes to whitewash a movie, but this is a new racist low. Oscar winner Julia Roberts was actually mentioned to play freedom fighter Harriet Tubman.
Gregory Allen Howard, the screenwriter and producer of the film “Harriet,” told Entertainment Weekly that when he first pitched the film in 1994, a mindless studio head brought up Julia Roberts.
“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,” Howard said. “I was told how one studio head said in a meeting, ‘This script is fantastic. Let’s get Julia Roberts to play Harriet Tubman.'”
The exec’s logic? “It was so long ago. No one is going to know the difference,'” Howard claimed the studio head said.
The caucasity of it all. No word on who the studio head was.
Social media was disgusted. CNN’s W. Kamau Bell asked this question, “So… wait… was the exec expecting Julia Roberts to go full-on Blackface like Birth of a Nation OR just completely ignore the source material like Emma Stone in Aloha? I HAVE QUESTIONS!!!”
Thankfully, this disaster in the making. Cynthia Erivo starred as Harriet Tubman in “Harriet” and was directed by Kasi Lemmons. On opening weekend, the Focus Features film brought in $12 million from 2,059 theaters, according to The Hollywood Reporter. That made “Harriet” the 13th-best opening ever for Focus. The film was only expected to bring in between $7.5 million to $9 million range.
The film also had a diverse mix of people but the success was driven by African-Americans. The Hollywood Reporter wrote that “African-Americans made up 49 percent of tickets buyers, followed by Caucasians (36 percent), Hispanics (8 percent) and Asian/other (7 percent), according to PostTrak. Nearly 60 percent of the audience was 35 and older, including almost 40 percent over 45.”
As of now, the film has grossed over $32 million at the box office. This is despite controversies like some people outraged that someone who isn’t American, Cynthia Erivo, who was born in London but her parents are from Nigeria playing Tubman — even though Tubman’s maternal grandmother was from Africa. In addition, before the movie came out, there were critiques that the film was historically incorrect with a “white savior” angle. Many people shut down this narrative and encouraged folks to see it for themselves.
See the reactions below to the complete foolishness of Julia Roberts ever being mentioned to play Harriet Tubman.