‘It’s ridiculous’: Viola Davis blasts Hollywood for considering Julia Roberts for Tubman role

The How to Get Away with Murder star has voiced her views on the outlandish suggestion

Viola Davis at a screening of "Widows" in New York City.

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. 

Comments Form


  1. | Marine N Stewart

    Yes, the thought is and was ridiculous. And so is the fact that this Cynthia Erivo was cast. She is not Historically Black American and does not represent anyone in our history. Our long and sometimes bleak history is very rich and second to none, and we will never let anyone forget that it is our history, starting in the U.S. over 400 years ago. Just because someone is black does not mean they can be cast in the role of our Historically Black ancestors. Hollywood has been casting foreign whites in the role of white Americans in increasing numbers for the last decade or so and finally white Americans are beginning to speak up against this, including the acclaimed actor Michael Douglas. In the last five or so years, they have started casting foreign blacks in roles about Historically Black Americans,who fought for, and many died,for the rights of their own Historically Black people in the United States. Our history is different from any other group in the U.S. and if Hollywood thinks that it is going to highjack our history and hang in onto foreigners, who happen to be black, they are about to learn a serious lesson. If Hollywood doesn’t already know, they are about to be shown that they cannot and will not assigin our long and rich history in the U.S. to others. There is a movement now to start boycotting the theaters en mass that show these fake representations of “Our Black Americans Ancestors.” Create all the fictional characters as you want, but you are not going to tramble on the graves of our Historically Black Ancestors in the U.S. Not intereted interested in opposing opinions because facts are facts and actions are actions.


  2. | Dr Liz Okokon

    This is Crazeee – with all the Black Talent in Hollywood – they done lost they minds if they think we will accept this.
    Its not like a Black man playing main role in race-neutral “Death of a Salesman”
    A. Tubman is the portrayal of a Black Woman’s heroic life
    B. We are still unacceptably Under-represented in all positive roles in Life.
    No wonder Our children are feeling Hopeless


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