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Harriet Tubman Is Finally Getting Her Own Movie

By Kristy Puchko | Film | September 13, 2018 |

By Kristy Puchko | Film | September 13, 2018 |


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Harriet Tubman was a world-changing abolitionist, who was born into slavery, daringly escaped, then repeatedly risked her own life and liberty to rescue 300 slaves from their brutal bondage. During the Civil War, she was a scout and a spy. She fought for women’s suffrage. Yet despite the many fascinating chapters of Tubman’s life, she has not been granted a proper biopic. Until now.

Focus Features has announced production on Harriet, a biopic that will star Tony Award®-winner Cynthia Erivo (Widows, Bad Times At the El Royale) as Tubman. Co-starring with Erivo will be Tony Award®-winner and Grammy Award®-winner Leslie Odom Jr. of Hamilton acclaim, Clarke Peters (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri), Joe Alwyn (Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk), and multiple Grammy Award®-winner Jennifer Nettles. And helming will be Kasi Lemmons, director of the riveting thriller Eve’s Bayou. Lemmons also co-wrote the script with Gregory Allen Howard (Ali, Remember the Titans). Production on the film is set to begin filming this October in Virginia.

The official logline is:

Based on the story of iconic freedom fighter Harriet Tubman, Harriet follows Tubman on her escape from slavery and subsequent missions to free dozens of slaves through the Underground Railroad in the face of growing pre-Civil War adversity.

Now, it should be noted Tubman had made her mark in movies. She recently had an inexplicable cameo in Transformers: The Last Knight, in which Michael Bay’s revisionist history kink decided to credit the Autobots with aiding in the Underground Railroad. But prior to this, the closest she’s come to a biopic was the 1978 TV mini-series A Woman Called Moses, starring Cicely Tyson. Tubman has popped up elsewhere, on the time-traveling drama Timeless, on the sketch-comedy show Key and Peele, and as a subject on Drunk History, on which she was played by Academy Award winner Octavia Spencer.

But jokes and parkour aside, Harriet looks like it could be an incredible opportunity to shine a light on this historic heroine. Producers Debra Martin Chase and Daniela Taplin Lundberg said in a statement, “This is the story of a seemingly powerless woman who accomplished the extraordinary to save her loved ones, and in the process became a leader of and inspiration for her people. While Harriet Tubman is a household name, most people don’t know the breadth of her story - not only was she a conductor on the Underground Railroad, but she was a spy for the Union army and remains one of the few women to have led an armed expedition in US history.”

This is a story that needs to be told. This is a time that needs to hear it. And this is a dream team of cast and crew that seems destined to make something suitably remarkable.



Kristy Puchko is the managing editor of Pajiba. You can follow her on Twitter.



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