Why Naomie Harris Almost Turned Down 'Moonlight' Role

Harris recently earned a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination for the role.

Naomie Harris says she initially “didn’t want to play a crack addict” in “Moonlight.”

In an interview with The Telegraph, Harris opened up on why she was apprehensive to take on the role of the main character’s mother, Paula. The role earned Harris a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nod.

Harris’ character suffers from drug addiction and is a single mom to a young boy named Chiron. Throughout the film Chiron struggles with discovering his identity in the impoverished neighborhood of Liberty City, Miami.

“I feel that there are enough negative portrayals of women in general, and black women in particular,” she said. “I grew up with this really strong mother - really intelligent, powerful, independent - and I’ve always admired her. She was part of a group of strong, powerful women as well. I very rarely saw those women represented then. So I initially said no to the role.’”  

The British actress previously told “CBS This Morning” that she overcame preconceived notions about the character after watching YouTube interviews with crack users and meeting a woman who struggled with crack addiction.

She went on to tell The Telegraph, that she’s very pleased to have discovered the nuances of Paula’s character traits.  

“The more layers I have to hide under as a character, the happier I am,” she said. “So with Paula in ‘Moonlight,’ despite the tortuous journey to get to her, once I found her was incredibly comfortable on set. Because she is so far removed. She is like the polar opposite to me.”



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