“At the time it seemed perfectly reasonable, because Barry Jenkins, our director, was so calm and so reassuring and he made me feel as though I had all the time in the world, so I never felt rushed,” Naomie Harris told THR during the Actress Oscar Roundtable on having three days to shoot Moonlight. “I never felt like this was a feet that we had to achieve, it just felt perfectly doable.”
Harris was hesitant to play a crack addict as a black woman, saying, “I grew up with very strong, intelligent, powerful women and I don’t feel as though they’re reflected enough on screen, so I sort of made it my mission that I was going to make my choices based on portraying positive images of women in general, and black women in particular. I didn’t feel as if a crack addicted fitted into that.”
Her change of heart for the role came when Barry Jenkins told her he was asking her to play his mom. “I thought, here’s someone who’s emotionally invested in ensuring that this character is given her full complexity and her full humanity.”
More roundtables featuring actors, screenwriters, songwriters, documentarians, directors, composers and producers will continue throughout February in print and online. Tune in to new episodes of Close Up With ‘The Hollywood Reporter’ starting Jan. 15 on Sundance TV, and look for clips at THR.com/topic/roundtables with full episodes on THR.com after broadcast.