Viola Davis to Star in & Produce Harriet Tubman Biopic for HBO
Harriet Tubman was an abolitionist, spy, Civil War commander, women’s rights activist and conductor of the Underground Railroad.
Her success, along with her personal life will be intimately explored in an upcoming HBO biopic starring Oscar-nominated and Tony-winning actress Viola Davis, who will also serve as producer and executive producer.
Still in early development, the project will be based on Kate Clifford Larson‘s 2004 book Bound for the Promised Land – Harriet Tubman Portrait: of an American Hero, which paints a portrait of a complex woman and her passionate pursuit of freedom.
The descendant of the vibrant, matrilineal Asanti people of the West African Gold Coast, Tubman was born into slavery on the Eastern Shore of Maryland but refused to spend her life in bondage. While still a young woman she embarked on a perilous journey of self-liberation—and then, having won her own freedom, she returned again and again to liberate family and friends, tapping into the Underground Railroad.
Yet despite her success, her celebrity, her close ties with Northern politicians and abolitionists, Tubman suffered crushing physical pain and emotional setbacks. Stripping away myths and misconceptions, Larson presents stunning new details about Tubman’s accomplishments, personal life, and influence, including her relationship with Frederick Douglass, her involvement with John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry, and revelations about a young woman who may have been Tubman’s daughter. Here too are Tubman’s twilight years after the war, when she worked for women’s rights and in support of her fellow blacks, and when racist politicians and suffragists marginalized her contribution.
The script for the currently untitled film will be adapted by Kirk Ellis (HBO’s John Adams miniseries).
It will be executive produced by Doug Ellin (Entourage) and his Halyard Park production company, along with Amblin TV, Cliff Dorfman (Entourage), as well as Davis and her husband Julius Tennon through their JuVee Productions company.
Shooting will take place next year while Davis is on break from ABC’s hit drama series How to get Away with Murder.
Harriet Tubman’s life was previously depicted in a 1978 NBC miniseries, titled A Woman Called Moses, starring Cicely Tyson as Harriet with narration by Orson Welles. It won a WGA award. Watch below.