Cynthia Erivo felt Harriet Tubman was ‘around’ while she filmed biopic

Cynthia Erivo felt like former slave-turned-abolitionist Harriet Tubman was “around” while she played her in the biopic Harriet.In the drama, the Widows actress portrays the famed slave liberator, who passed away in 1913, as she escapes from slaver…

Cynthia Erivo felt like former slave-turned-abolitionist Harriet Tubman was “around” while she played her in the biopic Harriet.

In the drama, the Widows actress portrays the famed slave liberator, who passed away in 1913, as she escapes from slavery and travels 100 miles on her own to safety in Philadelphia. However, she cannot find peace knowing her family and friends are still enslaved so she journeys back and forth to free them all, plus hundreds of others.

Tubman regularly speaks to God to ask for guidance and Erivo, who describes himself as a person of faith, prayed before going on set, where she felt the activist’s presence.

“(I prayed) to make the space safe and open for her because I feel as if Harriet is complicit in this storytelling. I feel that she’s around. It’s comforting to be able to reach into your faith to tell the story of somebody who has faith,” she told Britain’s Guardian newspaper.

The production was physically demanding, with the British actress having to sprint through forests, jump off bridges and wade through rivers, but she kept it all in perspective by thinking of what Tubman went through in real-life.

“While we were on set, if anything got difficult there was a saying: ‘HTH’, which was ‘Harriet Tubman hard’. So, if it wasn’t Harriet Tubman hard, it was fine, we were going to get through it. And nothing was Harriet Tubman hard, so we always got through it,” the 32-year-old stated.

Harriet marks the third film role for Erivo, who is earning Oscars buzz for her performance.

The biopic, which also stars Leslie Odom Jr., Janelle Monae, and Joe Alwyn, is in cinemas now.

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Cynthia Erivo urges critics to support Harriet Tubman biopic

Cynthia Erivo has called on critics to support her new film about legendary African-American abolitionist Harriet Tubman.The British actress portrays the anti-slavery activist in the new movie Harriet, but her casting upset some who believed the part s…

Cynthia Erivo has called on critics to support her new film about legendary African-American abolitionist Harriet Tubman.

The British actress portrays the anti-slavery activist in the new movie Harriet, but her casting upset some who believed the part should have gone to an African-American.

Erivo is sympathetic to their views, but now the film is about to be released, she is convinced supporting the project is the best way to provide future opportunities for more women of colour to put their spin on Tubman, who escaped slavery to help free others via the network of secret routes and safe houses known as the Underground Railroad.

“I understand that people would feel strongly about this woman (Tubman) because she means a lot to a lot of people,” Erivo said during an appearance on The TODAY Show. “But I think the thing that is really important is this is the first time we’re getting to see her (story in Hollywood), and really and truly, I hope that people come out to support this, so we can make more.

“It’s not a story that should be told in one film, it’s definitely a story that lasts and lasts. She was 91 years old by the time that she died, and she did a lot of work in her time.

“Hopefully, this just opens doors for many other actresses.”

Directed by Kasi Lemmons, Harriet also co-stars Joe Alwyn, Leslie Odom Jr., and Jennifer Nettles. The movie opens in U.S. cinemas on 1 November.

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Cynthia Erivo to star as abolitionist Harriet Tubman in new biopic

Cynthia Erivo has landed the lead role in biopic Harriet, which will chronicle the life of abolitionist Harriet Tubman.The Tony Award-winner, who is garnering buzz for her role in Steve McQueen movie Widows, will begin filming Harriet in October (18) i…

Cynthia Erivo has landed the lead role in biopic Harriet, which will chronicle the life of abolitionist Harriet Tubman.

The Tony Award-winner, who is garnering buzz for her role in Steve McQueen movie Widows, will begin filming Harriet in October (18) in Virginia, alongside cast members Leslie Odom Jr., Joe Alwyn, Jennifer Nettles, and Clarke Peters.

Rising star Erivo, who won a Tony, Grammy and Emmy for her starring role as Celie in the 2015 Broadway revival of The Color Purple, has been attached to the Harriet project since last year.

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the British-Nigerian actress spoke about playing the American icon, admitting she is slightly daunted.

“I can’t say I’m not frightened,” the 31-year-old told the publication. “I am, but that’s probably a good thing.”

Harriet follows African-American icon Tubman’s escape from slavery in 1849 and subsequent missions to rescue dozens of slaves through the Underground Railroad in the face of growing pre-Civil War adversity.

Kasi Lemmons of Eve’s Bayou fame will direct from a screenplay she co-wrote with Gregory Allen Howard, alongside Oscar-winning cinematographer John Toll, who has worked on cinema epics Legends of the Fall and Braveheart.

Producers are Debra Martin Chase with Martin Chase Productions, Daniela Taplin Lundberg with Stay Gold Features, and Howard.

Josh McLaughlin will oversee the production, which tells the heroic story of a “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 the few women to have led an armed expedition in U.S. history,” explained Martin Chase and Lundberg.

Focus Features and Universal Pictures International will distribute the film worldwide.

Erivo’s Widows co-star Viola Davis was previously linked to a Tubman HBO film in 2015.

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Orlando Bloom, Leslie Odom Jr., Freida Pinto & Cynthia Erivo tapped for new movie

Orlando Bloom, Leslie Odom Jr., Freida Pinto and Cynthia Erivo have joined John Ridley’s new movie.The American screenwriter, who won an Oscar for 12 Years a Slave, is not only penning the script for new feature Needle in a Timestack, an adaption of a …

Orlando Bloom, Leslie Odom Jr., Freida Pinto and Cynthia Erivo have joined John Ridley’s new movie.

The American screenwriter, who won an Oscar for 12 Years a Slave, is not only penning the script for new feature Needle in a Timestack, an adaption of a short story by Robert Silverberg, but he’s directing and producing it too.

The sci-fi flick will tell the story of a husband whose marriage is destroyed by a time-travel rival and will do whatever it takes to get his wife back.

Leslie and Cynthia both have highly acclaimed stage careers, and they each won a Tony Award in 2016, for their roles in Hamilton and The Color Purple, respectively.

Both stars are now moving more into film work, with Leslie previously joining Kenneth Branagh’s A-list Agatha Christie retelling Murder on the Orient Express. He has a further two films in production, Sia’s directorial debut Sister, and Only, which pairs him with Freida again.

Cynthia also has a packed schedule, starring in four new movies, including the lead role in Harriet, which recounts the story of Harriet Tubman, who helped free hundreds of slaves from the South after escaping from slavery herself in 1849.

In a role reversal, Orlando has taken some time out of movie making in the last year and has been treading the boards in London in play Killer Joe. He’s also been filming TV series Carnival Row with Cara Delevingne.

Freida has also been concentrating on TV work and was last seen on the small screen in The Path earlier this year.

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