Naomie Harris almost turned down award-winning Moonlight role

Actor Naomie Harris has said she almost turned down her award-winning role in US big-screen drama Moonlight because she “didn’t want to play a crack addict”.

The British star, who also takes on an emotional role in the upcoming release Collateral Beauty, said she feels “like an idiot” for hesitating over the part, which earned her a Bifa Variety Award and the Critics’ Choice prize for best supporting actress.

Speaking on The Graham Norton show, which airs on Friday night, she said: “I feel like an idiot now but I nearly didn’t do it.

“I didn’t want to play a crack addict, I wanted to portray positive images of women in general, and black women in particular, and I thought a crack addict wasn’t part of that.

“I was stupidly about to say no when the director said he was basically asking me to play his mother and I’ve never had anyone ask me to play their mum before.”

Her part in Collateral Beauty sees her play a mother again, this time having lost her daughter.

Despite the seriousness of the scenes, she described working with co-star Will Smith as being like spending time with a “very annoying older brother”.

She told the show: “Never show weakness to Will.

“I made the mistake of telling him that I turned up with my whole family to the premiere of my first ever movie – I was all dressed up and did the red carpet and everything – only to find out that it wasn’t me on screen. I had been replaced by another actress.”

According to an unsympathetic Will: “It was the funniest thing I had ever seen.”

The pair became so close that she invited the actor and producer to her family table for dinner.

She said of her family’s reaction: “They were cool but I did have to tell my little brother off for taking pictures of Will across the table… he said, ‘It’s okay, mum’s already posted it on Facebook!’”

Her Collateral Beauty co-star Dame Helen Mirren joined the group on the couch, and admitted she was slightly offended at being asked to play Death.

“I was so insulted,” she joked.

“I read the script but wasn’t quite sure who they were going to ask me to play, and then when I was cast as Death I thought, ‘God damn it!’

“But it’s a comedy role the way I play it.”

:: This week’s show will broadcast at 10.35pm on Friday on BBC One and also features Sherlock’s Martin Freeman and singer Katie Melua.

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