A truly cursed headline.
Gregory Allen Howard's Harriet Tubman biopic opened at the end of October after nearly 25 years of discussion and work.
Recently, Howard dusted off a memorable quote from the 1990s, when the movie was first in talks. Apparently, a studio executive suggested Julia Roberts, a white woman, play Tubman, the legendary black abolitionist.
HARRIET | Official Trailer | Now Playingwww.youtube.com
"I was told how one studio head said in a meeting, 'This script is fantastic. Let's get Julia Roberts to play Harriet Tubman,'" Howard said in an interview with Focus Features, republished in the LA Times on Tuesday. "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.'"
Imagine suggesting Julia Roberts play Harriet Tubman when Scarlett Johansson exists. https://t.co/k6cc8rxvGJ— Elu Thankful 🧝🏻♀️🌻 (@Elu Thankful 🧝🏻♀️🌻)1574220944.0
"The climate in Hollywood … was very different," Allen added, crediting two recent box office smash hits with creating space for change. "Two films really changed the climate in Hollywood to allow Harriet to be made," he said. "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."
Representation in Hollywood has long been a contentious topic, and despite performative diversity and major successes for actors and directors of color, recent studies have shown that the state of the film industry is still abysmal. In 2018, the Observer reported, "Not only do Hollywood films still disproportionately showcase white, cisgender, heterosexual men, executives and authority figures on every tier of the industry haven't even deigned to experiment with telling stories from different perspectives to any tangible degree."
Naturally, the Internet had a lot to say. Most lamented the utter horror of seeing Julia Roberts and Harriet Tubman in the same headline, but the story really only highlights what we already knew: Hollywood, like the nation at large, has a racism and whitewashing problem, and always has.
Sigh. OK, here we go. People are asking, "Why can't Julia Roberts play Harriet Tubman? She's an actor." In a perfec… https://t.co/9NoSEmkGLK— Wajahat "Abu Khadija" Ali (@Wajahat "Abu Khadija" Ali)1574234513.0
- Julia Roberts was Suggested to Play Harriet Tubman in Biopic ›
- Studio exec wanted Julia Roberts play Harriet Tubman: writer - New ... ›
- Julia Roberts nearly cast as Harriet Tubman in 1990s biopic ... ›
- Studio Exec Suggested Julia Roberts to Play Harriet Tubman, Says ... ›
- studio wanted Julia Roberts to play Harriet Tubman ›
- Julia Roberts Suggested to Play Harriet Tubman, Says 'Harriet ... ›
- Julia Roberts suggested to play Harriet Tubman by studio exec | EW ... ›
- Hollywood exec suggested Julia Roberts should play Harriet Tubman ›
- Julia Roberts was suggested to play Harriet Tubman; Twitter reacts ›
- Harriet Tubman biopic: Hollywood exec wanted Julia Roberts to play ... ›
Robin Williams would have voted for Joe Biden, point blank.
This weekend, Eric Trump gleefully shared a video of the late Robin Williams making fun of presidential candidate Joe Biden that bore the caption, "Robin Williams Savages Joe Biden."
https://t.co/KiklnDgnE7— Eric Trump (@Eric Trump)1596711758.0
Zelda Williams tweeted in response, "While we're 'reminiscing' (to further your political agenda), you should look up what he said about your Dad. I did. Promise you, it's much more 'savage.' Gentle reminder that the dead can't vote, but the living can."
While we’re ‘reminiscing’ (to further your political agenda), you should look up what he said about your Dad. I did… https://t.co/nzXS658s6H— Zelda Williams (@Zelda Williams)1596861971.0
Robin Williams, who would have turned 69 last month, had certainly poked fun at Joe Biden. In the clip shared by the younger Trump, Williams quips, "We still have great comedy out there, there's always rambling Joe Biden, what the f***... Joe says s*** that even people with Tourette's go, 'No. What is going on?'" He continued, "Joe is like your uncle who is on a new drug and hasn't got the dosage right...I'm proud to work with Barack America — 'He's not a superhero, you idiot — come here!'"
His comments about the current president were far more incisive and far-reaching. For example, in 2012, he referred to Trump as "a scary man" and "the Wizard of Oz" because "he plays monopoly with real f***ing buildings."
Of course, these jokes are based in very real calamities. Many of Trump's real estate projects and business ventures have notoriously fallen through or crash-landed completely, landing him in massive debt. Yet time and time again he was bailed out by his father, Fred Trump, who paid millions to keep his son's delusions of glory alive. He was also bailed out by a variety of banks (and still owes Deutsche Bank an outstanding $350 million). In some ways, it's no surprise that Trump will leave America sick, in debt, and in crisis.
If you're looking for zombie-killing action, remember this is a Jim Jarmusch movie.
© 2019 Image Eleven Productions, Inc.
The Dead Don't Die is exactly what one would expect a Jim Jarmusch zombie movie to be.
At least, it's exactly what anyone should expect a Jim Jarmusch zombie movie to be. This is the director of Broken Flowers and Paterson, so audiences know going in that The Dead Don't Die won't be the typical Bill Murray romp (when was the last time Murray did a romp anyway?)
The plot centers on the small town of Centerville as it faces a zombie outbreak, which is caused by polar fracking spinning Earth off its axis. Officers Cliff Robertson (Murray) and Ronnie Peterson (Adam Driver) have to warn the town and fight zombies after dark.
Why don't the dead die? Credit : Frederick Elmes / Focus Features
These are definitely zombies at a Jim Jarmusch pace. Not only are they the traditionally slow, lumbering, George Romero-style zombies (no fast running zombies here, thankfully), but Jarmusch slows down the action even more. For some reason, the characters take their time killing the zombies.
Don't expect Dawn of the Dead-sized hordes, either, or even Walking Dead-sized. This is an indie movie, after all. There's a horde of only seven or eight zombies on Main Street, although there are a lot more at the cemetery. Zombies on the athletic field allow for some fun gags, so Jarmusch does indulge in some of the traditional "zombies resuming their routines" jokes.
If you've seen other Jarmusch movies, like Paterson or Coffee and Cigarettes, you can sort of apply those tones to this zombie movie. The Dead Don't Die isn't even as loyal to its genre as Ghost Dog was to samurai movies or Only Lovers Left Alive was to vampire movies; those films still took their time, but they adapted to the genre. Instead, Jarmusch adapts zombies to his tone and pace.
Admit it, being dead wouldn't stop your coffee cravings. Frederick Elmes / Focus Features
The Dead Don't Die has a light tone, but it's not laugh-out-loud funny. Quirky would be the clearest way to describe it. Nobody's making jokes, but they're saying things that are a little off-kilter. The first meta joke was fun, but after the second meta joke, you can totally predict what the third meta joke will be.
There are a lot of characters standing around talking, making changes or guessing where tourists (led by Selena Gomez) are from. The mortician, Zelda Winston (Tilda Swinton), addresses every character by their title and full name, because that's an unusual way to talk. Murray does exactly one lone pratfall. In 2019, let's celebrate what little Bill Murray-physical comedy we still get.
At least there are plenty of gory zombie bites. When zombies are killed in this movie, they spray black dust instead of gory innards, which gives it a somewhat classier effect. If you're looking for zombie-killing, once again these characters take their time killing zombies. Even though they know the rules to aim for the head, they're in no rush.
I have to call a little B.S. on Jarmusch's deep cut references, though. Zoe (Selena Gomez) tells store clerk Bobby Wiggins (Caleb Landry Jones), "Your film knowledge is impressive" on the basis of his references to Psycho, George Romero, and Nosferatu. Come on, Zoe, aim higher. But maybe she was just being nice to the townie.
Samurai Swinton? Sold! Frederick Elmes / Focus Features
Jim Jarmusch is not at everyone's speed, but he's firmly established his own style and pacing, so everyone should know what to expect from The Dead Don't Die. It's not Zombieland. The Dead Don't Die is a traditional Jim Jarmusch movie—slowed down by zombies.