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'Harriet' Screenwriter Says a Studio Head Wanted Julia Roberts to Play Harriet Tubman

Gregory Allen Howard, the screenwriter of the new biopic Harriet, is opening up about what took so long for a movie about Harriet Tubman to be made.

Cynthia Erivo stars as Harriet in the new movie and she’s getting Oscar buzz for her fantastic performance, but when the movie was originally being pitched many years ago, a studio head suggested a white actress should play the role.

Harriet, which was set up at Disney 26 years ago, was my first assignment. When I got in the business, I wanted to tell these historical stories by turning them into entertainment. I didn’t want to give history lessons. I wanted to turn Harriet Tubman‘s life, which I’d studied in college, into an action-adventure movie,” Gregory said in a Q&A.

“The climate in Hollywood, however, was very different back then. I was told how one studio head said in a meeting, ‘This script is fantastic. Let’s get Julia Roberts to play Harriet Tubman.’ 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,’” Gregory added.

He continued, “Two films really changed the climate in Hollywood to allow Harriet to be made. 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.”

Harriet has so far made $32 million at the box office.

READ MORE: Julia Roberts Responds to Emma Roberts’ Sweet Birthday Post

Julia Roberts Responds to Emma Roberts' Sweet Birthday Post

Emma Roberts is making sure her aunt Julia Roberts has a memorable 52nd birthday!

The 28-year-old American Horror Story actress took to Instagram on Monday (October 28) to share her sentiments with the My Best Friend’s Wedding star.

“Happy Birthday Aunt @juliaroberts 🎂 you are the queen!” Emma captioned the snap below. “I love you 🍰🥂❤️.”

“I Love You beyond measure. 💖,” Julia commented.

In the photo, Julia wraps her arm around her niece as the two flash their pearly whites.

“52. Yeehaw. 🎂💃🏼🥳,” Julia Roberts also wrote along with her own Instagram photo.

On Saturday, Emma Roberts – in a sleeveless black dress and pointy black shoes – was spotted giving a goodbye hug to her boyfriend Garrett Hedlund before stepping out to grab some lunch in Los Feliz, Calif.

READ MORE: Emma Roberts on Looking Like Her Aunt Julia Roberts: ‘A Lot of Teeth’

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Julia Roberts Photo Gallery

Julia Roberts Rocks Pink Blazer & Tights for Italian Fashion Campaign

Julia Roberts keeps it chic in a pink blazer dress and trendy tights!

The 51-year-old Homecoming actress teamed up with Italian fashion brand Calzedonia for their new Fall/Winter 2019/20 campaign.

PHOTOS: Check out the latest pics of Julia Roberts

The collaboration has lasted six years between the iconic star and the legwear brand. The new collection features three styles of tights: houndstooth, cashmere, and polka dot.

Starting with Calzedonia’s birthplace in Verona, Julia wears her favorite styles from this season, traveling through Calzedonia stores worldwide.

“I love the ones I wear in the commercial, I love the dots and pied de poule is the must have of the season,” Julia said in a statement. “The pied de poule is a trend on various FW fashion catwalks and many designers are using this sartorial pattern also on accessories. Calzedonia as well created two different tights with micro and macro pied de poule, the one I am wearing in the TV commercial.”

READ MORE: Janelle Monáe to Take Over as ‘Homecoming’ Lead From Julia Roberts for Season 2!

10+ pictures inside of Julia Roberts‘ new campaign… More Here! »

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Julia Roberts Joins Kirsten Dunst & Busy Philipps at Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic

Julia Roberts was all about the polka dots while stepping out for the Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic!

The 51-year-old actress attended the annual event on Saturday afternoon (October 5) at Will Rogers State Historic Park in Pacific Palisades, Calif.

PHOTOS: Check out the latest pics of Julia Roberts

She was also joined at the event by Kirsten Dunst, Busy Philipps, Jaime King and Christina Hendricks.

Other attendees included Rachel Zoe, Candace Cameron Bure, Lake Bell, Ali Larter and Regina Hall.

FYI: Julia is wearing a Michael Kors set with Oliver Peoples sunglasses and jewelry by Sara Weinstock and Octavia Elizabeth. Kirsten is wearing a Vika Gazinskaya dress. Regina is wearing a Zimmermann dress. Jaime is wearing a Monse dress. Candace is wearing a Prabal Gurung dress. Rachel is wearing a Rachel Zoe dress. Busy is wearing a The Vampire’s Wife dress. Lake is wearing a Rosetta Getty outfit. Christina is wearing a Reformation dress.

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Julia Roberts Rocks Red Overalls for SiriusXM's 'Jess Cagle Show' Launch

Julia Roberts is all smiles as Jess Cagle launches his exclusive SiriusXM show The Jess Cagle Show!

The 51-year-old Wonder actress hit the studio as his first live guest at the new SiriusXM Hollywood Studios on Monday (September 16) in Los Angeles.

PHOTOS: Check out the latest pics of Julia Roberts

SiriusXM’s The Jess Cagle Show, hosted by Jess Cagle and his co-host Julia Cunningham, airs Mondays through Fridays at 3 p.m. PT.

ICYMI, see who is taking over for Julia as the lead in Homecoming for season two.

READ MORE: Julia Roberts Reacts to Shocking Emmy 2019 Nomination Snub!

FYI: Julia is wearing Elie Tahari with Angela Scott shoes and June Nineteen bracelets.

10+ pictures inside of Julia Roberts at the event… More Here! »

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Julia Roberts Rocks a Jumpsuit For Coffee Run in LA

Julia Roberts kicked off her day with a coffee run!

The 51-year-old Homecoming actress was spotted while making a stop at Starbucks on Tuesday morning (August 27) in Pacific Palisades, Calif.

PHOTOS: Check out the latest pics of Julia Roberts

Julia looked chic in a black jumpsuit paired with black shoes and sunglasses. She also brought a reusable coffee cup with her for the stop.

She was last seen while attending the Rolling Stones concert earlier this month.

It was recently announced who would be replacing Julia on the new season of Homecoming. Get all the details!

FYI: Julia is wearing Oliver Peoples sunglasses.

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