AceShowbiz - Viola Davis has weighed in on the shocking revelation that Oscar-winning actress Julia Roberts was once considered to play Harriet Tubman in the biopic, "Harriet". Hinting that she wasn't surprised by the commercial nature of Hollywood's show business, the Emmy-winning actress still thinks that the idea of Roberts portraying the historical figure doesn't make any sense.
"It happens all of the time [in Hollywood]," Davis said in an interview with MadameNoire. "Here's the thing, simply put: Julia Roberts as Harriet Tubman is ridiculous," she added. "That barely warrants a response. That's ridiculous. I understand that the film industry very much is about commerce and money, I get it. But that's ridiculous."
It was "Harriet" screenwriter Gregory Allen Howard himself who revealed earlier this month that a studio executive suggested Roberts would be a good candidate to play the slave-turned-abolitionist. "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 said in a Q&A with the Los Angeles Times, published on Tuesday, November 19.
He continued sharing, "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.' The climate in Hollywood, however, was very different back then."
Roberts eventually was never involved in the biopic, with Cynthia Erivo taking on the title role. Her casting, however, was also met with backlash because she's British, while Harriet was an African American.
Responding to the controversy, Erivo told The Guardian last week, "Before I'm British, I'm a black woman. The first things people see are the color of my skin and my sex. That's how I have lived my whole life."
She added that, as a first-generation African, she's no less entitled to take on the role than other African performers. "My mother came from Nigeria, so that is very much my culture as well. I have seen people insult my mother for being from where she is from, and I've been insulted for that," the "Widows" star argued. "All I can do as an actor is to tell the story. That's my job."
"Harriet" was released November 1 in the United States.