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.
difficult to describe the noise that just came out of my mouth https://t.co/RFGREZE9zv— Hannah Jane Parkinson (@ladyhaja) November 20, 2019
Hollywood considering Julia Roberts to play Harriet Tubman tells you everything you need to know about this country.— saira rao (@sairasameerarao) November 20, 2019
If you’re chasing a Hollywood dream and feel doubtful you’ll ever make it, remember there are executives getting paid shit loads of money to suggest JULIA ROBERTS should play Harriet Tubman. A jar of cockroaches is more qualified than some of these people so DON’T GIVE UP.— Jordan Crucchiola (@JorCru) November 20, 2019
Staring at this headline for the last 14 minutes https://t.co/xSXjEv0zsI— Eoin Higgins (@EoinHiggins_) November 20, 2019
Can’t believe that some studio head wanted to cast Julia Roberts as Harriet Tubman! pic.twitter.com/LM1yBF1XiR— Nancy Wang Yuen (@nancywyuen) November 20, 2019
If Julia Roberts can play Harriet Tubman then damn it Scarlett Johansson can play...oh wait. Hollywood is wild, man. People of color, friends in the industry, stay sane and grounded as you deal with this madness. Laugh at the absurdity if possible.— Wajahat "Wears a Mask Because of a Pandemic" Ali (@WajahatAli) November 20, 2019
Bwahaha. “This script is fantastic. Let’s get Julia Roberts to play Harriet Tubman.”— Sophia Tesfaye (@SophiaTesfaye) November 20, 2019
I don’t know what’s worse: Such a suggestion or the fact that it took 25 years to finally make the film. https://t.co/f9SsSGXYMi
What I imagine the tension in the room was like in that general meeting when that studio exec suggested to Julia Roberts that she could play Harriet Tubman.— Matthew A. Cherry (@MatthewACherry) November 20, 2019
i keep thinking about julia roberts playing harriet tubman and i cannot breathe 💀 pic.twitter.com/MveB8eodEW— josh (@thejoshuagrant) November 20, 2019
They really was going to try to push Julia Roberts to play Harriet Tubman because it was “so long ago” and “know one would notice.” pic.twitter.com/SyM4y6Cn3D— ✨JenniferMarie✨ (@MsJLaw) November 20, 2019
Thinking about Julia Roberts as Harriet Tubman like pic.twitter.com/TUDctSEB0u— Allahpundit (@allahpundit) November 20, 2019
Nobody:— Lorenzo Graddi (@grvddi) November 20, 2019
NOT ONE PERSON:
Hollywood Exec: Julia Roberts should play Harriet Tubman! pic.twitter.com/N5pfAui20k
Y'all swear racism isn't real but...⬇️— BlackWomenViews Media (@blackwomenviews) November 20, 2019
“This script is fantastic. Let’s get Julia Roberts to play Harriet Tubman,'” Allen explained. “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.” https://t.co/YDZWOJ4GtC