‘Harriet’: Cynthia Erivo & Kasi Lemmons Discuss Their Most Magical Day Filming the Harriet Tubman Biopic

     September 18, 2019

It’s about time Harriet Tubman‘s incredible true story hits the big screen. After a huge 2018 in Hollywood including a key role in Steve McQueen‘s Widows and a show stopping performance in Bad Times at the El RoyalCynthia Erivo takes on the role of the famed abolitionist and political activist, Harriet Tubman. At the start of Harriet, she’s Araminta Ross, a woman living as a slave on a plantation in Maryland. But, when an opportunity presents itself, she takes off in an effort to travel the 100 miles north to Philadelphia. From there, Harriet becomes a real life superhero, freeing dozens of slaves through the Underground Railroad.

With Harriet celebrating its world premiere at TIFF 2019, director Kasi Lemmons, Erivo and Leslie Odom Jr. who plays William Still, all took the time to visit the Collider Lounge to talk about their experience making the movie and to play a little “Collider’s Most Memorable.” Check out the video at the top of this article to hear all about an especially magical day on set, to get Erivo’s thoughts on being the lead in a film and also a leader on set, to hear about how Lemmons went about weaving Tubman’s narcolepsy into the script, and loads more. Harriet hits theaters on November 1st.

nordstrom-supper-suite-tiff-2019We also need to send a big thank you to our presenting sponsor Nordstrom Canada and supporting partners Marriott Bonvoy and Ciroc Vodka for supporting the Collider Lounge at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival and helping to make these interviews happen.

Our friends at Heroes & Villains apparel are also happy to give Collider readers a 15% discount on their wide assortment of high-quality clothing and accessories for fans of Star WarsStar TrekBatmanX-Men and more! Click here to check out their products and use the promo code TIFF15 at checkout.

You can find a full breakdown of the interview and the official synopsis for Harriet below:

Leslie Odom Jr., Kasi Lemmons, Cynthia Erivo:

  • 00:15 – What was the most intimidating part of playing Harriet Tubman for Erivo?
  • 01:13 – Erivo had been attached to Harriet for a while. Was there ever a point when she thought it wasn’t going to happen?
  • 01:55 – With all the wonderful leading ladies Lemmons has worked with, does she notice any shared traits among the greats?
  • 03:00 – Odom Jr. on stepping onto a set as a supporting character after the rhythm has already been established.
  • 04:22 – Odom Jr.’s advice for someone playing a historian figure.
  • 05:05 – Erivo on being the lead in the movie and also a leader in the ensemble.
  • 06:25 – Lemmons talks about incorporating Harriet’s narcolepsy into the screenplay.
  • 07:40 – Why has it taken so long to make movie about Harriet Tubman?
  • 08:12 – Lemmons recalls the unforgettable and unexpected magic that happened one day on set.
  • 11:30 – Collider’s Most Memorable begins!

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.


Image via Focus Features


Image via Focus Features

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