'I was told how one studio head said in a meeting, "This script is fantastic".
However, Hollywood once went as far as to suggest Julia Roberts play the iconic freedom fighter and abolitionist Harriet Tubman. The president replied, 'That was so long ago. "No one is going to know the difference.'" Howard said the conversation happened back in 1994, but it still raised eyebrows.
I've honestly written, deleted and re-written this paragraph like three times because I'm not entirely sure what to focus on.
"So. wait. was the exec expecting Julia Roberts to go full-on Blackface like Birth of a Nation", tweeted the comedian W. Kamau Bell, "OR just completely ignore the source material like Emma Stone in Aloha?"
But before Erivo earned the role, there was one very big name suggested to star in her place: Julia Roberts.
Howard said that while the unnamed executive's suggestion was met with resistance by the studio, some in the room said, "It was so long ago".
Shown is a portrait of Harriet Tubman circa 1885.
The film Harriet-directed by Kasi Lemmons, written by Gregory Allen Howard, and starring Cynthia Erivo as Harriet Tubman-the first major motion picture about the Black American slave turned abolitionist (who should be on the $20 bill), has been under a bit of controversy due to Erivo, but Gregory Allen Howard has emerged to say that it could have been worse.
"I told my agent, 'You can't say this kind of story won't make money now, '" Howard said.
This little explanation, to me, encompasses the catch-22 of sharing this story about the potential whitewashing of a Harriet Tubman.
Well, Howard had been trying to make a film about this legendary icon of American history for more than 25 years!
"Then "Black Panther" really blew the doors open".
Howard said the film was his "valentine to black women". The British actress is incredible in the role; critics have widely praised her performance, and even Howard himself said he knew immediately upon meeting her in a casting call that Erivo was the flawless person to play such a significant character. But the project came together around Erivo, a casting choice some have criticized because she isn't American. "I saw her story as a genre piece".