Screenwriter and producer, Gregory Allen Howard, has revealed that executives suggested that Julia Roberts play the role of Harriet Tubman when he first shopped the film, Harriet, in 1994. Howard spoke about this incident at length in an essay published by the Los Angeles Times.
He stated, “I was told how one studio head said in a meeting.”
Howard added, “This script is fantastic. Let’s get Julia Roberts to play Harriet Tubman.”
He concluded, “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.”
Howard also noted that there was a “single black person” in the room at the time of the discussion. He later went on to explain how 12 Years A Slave and Black Panther have influenced casting in blockbuster films.
Howard did not reveal the name of the executive during the essay. Roberts has not commented on the story as of yet either.