The HBO movie starring Oprah Winfrey, ‘The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,’ premieres April 22. Before sitting down to watch the highly-anticipated film adaptation of the best-selling book, here are 5 keys things you need to know!
1. The movie is based on a book.
Author Rebecca Skloot, 44, published The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks in 2010. The book centers on Henrietta Lacks, an African American woman who becomes a pioneer in medicine when her cells are used to create the first immortal human cell line in the early 1950s.
2. The movie is also based on a true story.
Yes, Henrietta Lacks was a real person. She died of cervical cancer in 1951 at the age of 31. Cells were taken from her body without her knowledge to form the HeLa cell line that’s been used extensively in scientific research since then, according to Biography. While most cells only survived a few days, Henrietta’s cells lasted much longer. The HeLa cell line was used by Jonas Salk to develop a polio vaccine. Scientists cloned her cells in 1955.
2. The film features a star-studded cast.
Oprah Winfrey, 63, stars as Henrietta Lacks’ daughter, Deborah Lacks. Hamilton star Renee Elise Goldsberry, 46, plays Henrietta. The movie also stars The People V. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story star Courtney B. Vance, 57, and Rose Byrne, 37.
3. Oprah originally didn’t want to be in the movie.
“I had noooo desire to act in this film. None,” she told The New York Times. “Len Amato [president of HBO Films] came to visit me and said, “I think it should be you.” I gave him some other names of people who I thought it should be, and he said, ‘No, we really prefer you.’ So, it was only after George came on board, and George said definitely you should do it.”
4. Henrietta’s oldest son is not happy with the film.
Lawrence Lacks, Henrietta’s eldest son, believes HBO and Oprah are exploiting his mother’s memory. “It’s bad enough Johns Hopkins took advantage of us,” Lawrence told The Baltimore Sun. He claims that the university used his mother’s cells for medical research without permission and believes the family should be compensated. He continued, “Now Oprah, Rebecca and HBO are doing the same thing. They’re no better than the people they say they hate.”
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks premieres April 22 at 8 p.m. ET on HBO.
HollywoodLifers, are you going to watch The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks? Let us know!