Focus Features Presents Harriet, Right On! Digital’s Pick For Best Film Of 2019!

 


Cynthia Erivo stars as Harriet Tubman in HARRIET, a Focus Features release. Credit: Glen Wilson / Focus Features

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Although many may have seen the  Harriet movie trailer and have studied the heroism of the iconic Harriet Tubman, here’s the description of the film provided by the studio.

About The Story:

Dorchester County, Maryland. 1849. Araminta “Minty” Ross (Cynthia Erivo) is a slave at the Brodess plantation who prays that someday she will be able to escape her circumstances and make a better life for her family. When slaveholder and patriarch Edward Brodess dies suddenly, Minty finds herself facing a terrible fate—she’s to be sold to new owners in the South, never to see her loved ones again. After experiencing a powerful premonition, she realizes there is only one course of action left to her. She needs to run. But leaving behind the only home she’s ever known comes with great peril. She’ll need to journey alone through miles of wilderness with only God and the North Star to guide her, pursued at every turn by Brodess’ vengeful son Gideon (Joe Alwyn).

Miraculously, “Minty” reaches the Pennsylvania border, crossing into freedom and traveling onward to Philadelphia, where she meets William Still (Leslie Odom Jr.) at the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society. There, she chooses a new name, Harriet Tubman, and begins to establish roots as a working woman with the assistance of the entrepreneurial Marie Buchanon (Janelle Monáe). But Harriet can’t reconcile having her newfound freedom while so many remain behind. Harriet resolves to rescue her beloved husband, John Tubman (Zackary Momoh). Although John is technically a free man, as an African-American in Maryland, he remains in constant danger.

Disguising her identity, Harriet bravely returns to the Brodess plantation to bring John back home with her—but learns the devastating news that he has moved on after her departure, believing that she died during her escape to freedom. Nevertheless, Harriet, believing that she is called by God to serve a higher purpose, saves the lives of her other family members. Soon, she is a full-fledged conductor on the Underground Railroad—a liberator known as Moses, secretly helping runaway slaves reach the promised land and becomes one of the greatest figures in history.

Right On! Digital’s Cynthia Horner was able to get some one on one time with two of the actors, Cynthia Erivo and Leslie Odom Jr., who are proud to have been part of the cast who brought Harriet Tubman’s story to life through the eyes of filmmaker Kasi Lemmons (Eve’s Bayou).

 

 

 

 

Hats off to actor Leslie Odom Jr. and costume designer Paul Tazewell. Credit: Glen Wilson / Focus Features

 

INTERVIEW BY CYNTHIA HORNER

 

Q: First of all, this is one of the best films that I have ever seen, and I am doing whatever I can to support it.  I learned so much about Harriet Tubman through viewing this film.  What did you learn?

 

(l-r) Director Kasi Lemmons interacts with actors Zackary Momoh, Cynthia Erivo and Vanessa Bell Calloway on the set of her film HARRIET. Credit: Glen Wilson / Focus Features

Cynthia Erivo:  There are details that we didn’t know about Harriet Tubman unless you have done a lot of research. For instance,  she saved  money so that she could to hire a lawyer.  She had the mindset to do that. There are so many details that people need to know about that everyone needs to see the movie. That’s what Kasi (Lemmons)  wanted. I think we believe the story is for everyone.

Q: When you saw the film, what were your reactions?

Cynthia Erivo:   Not recognizing yourself. I was touched.

Leslie Odom Jr.:  I was touched by Cynthia’s performance, her perseverance, her focus and  her spirit. I don’t know if that was her intention going into (the project), but the impression I was left with  after watching the movie.

Cynthia Erivo: There was the  power and the need to tell the story. It felt special.


Janelle Monáe shines as Marie Buchanon whose character becomes friends with Harriet Tubman. Credit: Glen Wilson / Focus Features

Q:  I would imagine that the scenes were exhausting, weren’t they?

Leslie Odom Jr.:  I’m careful about what projects I take because you kind of carry them with you. But it’s a reminder about how I’m using my life to help somebody else.

Cynthia Erivo:  It was exhausting; there were scenes where it was a freezing cold night in the water. It was a lot on the body; there was so much that she had to go through.

Q: What didn’t you know about Harriet Tubman’s life that really resonated with you?

Cynthia Erivo: The way in which slaves were treated in different states and how some slaves  lived around free people and were married. And to see the way families were sold and ripped apart. You know it, but you didn’t see it. And Harriet lost her sisters, left her husband who ended up having another wife and had to leave her mother and father. That separation was staggering to me.

Leslie Odom Jr.:  I wanted to contribute and do my part. I knew what I was touching people. We learned quite a bit about her  In school. They would talk about it and how she helped get people to freedom. It can be superhuman type of thing but you’re reminded that the first time went back to get her husband..understanding why she went back.

 


 Leslie Odom Jr., a camera operator Daniele Massaccesi and cinematographer John Toll are seen behind the scenes.
Credit: Glen Wilson / Focus Features

Q: The impact is indelible. Younger kids need to see it. How do you feel about being part of a movement?

Cynthia Erivo: Pretty good. I hope that they see the movie and see that the things they want to achieve are able to be done. Harriet Tubman was a very small woman who was strong and determined. She didn’t have many means. And she walked 100 miles and came back in the face of danger. People have the ability to do many, many great things.

Cynthia Erivo and Cynthia Horner share a selfie moment. Credit: Cynthia Horner Collection

PEEP THE TRAILER HERE: