Movies & TV / News

Julia Roberts Was Once Suggested to Play Harriet Tubman

November 20, 2019 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
Julia Roberts Harriet Tubman

It’s the kind of story that you expect to be a joke in a Hollywood satire, but this is true: a studio executive once suggested Julia Roberts for the role of Harriet Tubman. Yes, the abolitionist from the Civil War. Gregory Allen, who wrote and produced the currently-in-release Harriet starring Cynthia Erivo, did a Q&A with Focus Features who produced the film and talked about how he first started working on the biopic 25 years ago when “the climate in Hollywood … was very different.”

Allen recalled, “I was told how one studio head said in a meeting, ‘This script is fantastic. Let’s get Julia Roberts to play Harriet Tubman.'” He 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.'”

Allen added, “Two films really changed the climate in Hollywood to allow Harriet to be made. When 12 Years a Slave became a hit and did a couple hundred million dollars worldwide, I told my agent, “You can’t say this kind of story won’t make money now.” Then Black Panther really blew the doors open.”

Harriet is now in theaters and is earning some awards buzz for Erivo.

article topics :

Harriet, Julia Roberts, Jeremy Thomas