The Harriet Tubman biopic has been in the works for more than 20 years, and the screenwriter has now revealed that Julia Roberts was once suggested as a casting choice for Harriet. Naturally, fans are super confused.
Cynthia Erivo portrayed Harriet Tubman in the Harriet biopic, which was released earlier this month, but one of the original casting choices was MUCH different. The film’s screenwriter and producer, Gregory Allen Howard, opened up in a recent Q&A about when he first started working on the historical drama way back in 1994, and revealed that one studio executive actually suggested Julia Roberts for the part of Harriet Tubman. Yes, the exec wanted a white actress to play the famous slave-turned-abolitionist in a biopic about Harriet’s life.
“The climate in Hollywood was very different back then. I was told how one studio head said in a meeting, ‘This script is fantastic. Let’s get Julia Roberts to play Harriet Tubman,'” Howard said in the Q&A. “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.” Luckily, the studio did not follow through with that suggestion. Actually, it took more than 20 years to get Harriet made. Cynthia was cast in Feb. 2017 after several other actresses, including Viola Davis, has been rumored to appear.
Howard’s Q&A was resurfaced in the Los Angeles Times on Nov. 19, and now, people are buzzing about the Julia Roberts news. Naturally, people on the Internet are absolutely baffled at the idea that someone suggested Julia to play Harriet Tubman. “A jar of cockroaches is more qualified than some of these people so DON’T GIVE UP,” one person wrote. Another added, “Umm..I’m guessing Julia Roberts would very much like to be excluded from this narrative.”
I think this Julia Roberts Harriet Tubman shit shows you just how stupid Hollywood executives are
— The True American (@TrueAmerican2k) 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
— ✨🐝 Jennifer L. (@MsJLaw) November 20, 2019
Other Twitter users shared GIFs and memes to express their reactions. Some also posted side by side photos of Julia and Harriet Tubman to prove just how ridiculous that casting choice would have been!