SOCIAL MEDIA was up in arms and full of confusion when it was reported that Pretty Woman star Julia Roberts was a contender for the role of the abolitionist Harriet Tubman in a movie about her life.
Oscar-award winning actress Viola Davis was not impressed by this suggestion. She responded to the comments which were made in the 90s during an interview with MadameNoire. “It happens all of the time. Here’s the thing, simply put Julia Roberts as Harriet Tubman is ridiculous. That barely warrants a response. That’s ridiculous,” Davis said.
She continued: “I understand that the film industry very much is about commerce and money, I get it. But that’s ridiculous.”
Harriet is a historical film that chronicles the life of the slave-turned abolitionist Harriet Tubman. The film features Cynthia Erivo in the starring role. However, in an interview with Focus Features, screenwriter and producer of the film, Gregory James, revealed this would not have been the case if one executive had his way back in 1994.
He 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’.”
James continued: “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’.”
How to Get Away with Murder star Davis turned her attention to those in power in Hollywood. She said: “Why is that you are not armed with enough information and why you don’t see it as important to cast a black woman as Harriet Tubman?”
Julia Roberts, 52, has not commented on the claim.
Harriet is out now in UK Cinemas.