Why 'Entourage' Creator Doug Ellin Chose a Harriet Tubman Biopic as His Next Project

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Doug Ellin

Viola Davis is starring in the HBO project: "It's a personal passion for me because Harriet was so much more than just the Underground Railroad that most associate her with."

A version of this story first appeared in the June 12 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Move over, Ari, here comes Harriet. Doug Ellin is switching gears in a big way with his next HBO project: The Entourage creator is executive producing a Harriet Tubman biopic with Viola Davis. "My childhood friend Cliff Dorfman gave me Kate Clifford Larson’s book," Ellin says of the 2003 biography, Bound for the Promised Land.

Ellin became fascinated and thought Davis was "the perfect choice" to play Tubman, "so we set up a lunch and gave her the book. She loved it as well. It’s a personal passion for me because Harriet was so much more than just the Underground Railroad that most associate her with." The How to Get Away With Murder star agrees: "I want to be reintroduced to who she really is, other than the woman with the rags on her head who said, 'I’ll kill you if you don’t follow the North Star.' "

As for Larson, a historian whose Tubman biography had previously been optioned by independent documentary filmmakers, she is simply glad that a fuller picture of Tubman's story will finally get the screen treatment it deserves. "I don't know what to say," she says, chuckling at the tonal differences between Ari Gold and Harriet Tubman. "There are certain people that are going to be captivated by Harriet Tubman, and obviously these were the right people because they moved [the project] forward and now there's going to be a movie about her."

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