Naomie Harris: ‘Writers don’t prioritize fleshed-out female characters’


Naomie Harris often reads scripts where female characters are less fleshed out than the males because screenwriters think they aren’t as important.

The British actress has had her pick of scripts since landing an Oscar nomination for Moonlight in 2017, but she tells PorterEdit magazine that, even though great strides are being made in the industry in addressing diversity, screenwriters still don’t prioritise creating well-rounded female parts.

“(Scriptwriters) always say, ‘It’s a bit thin on the page, but we’re going to flesh it out’, but I’ve learned through experience that it doesn’t happen,” she sighed. “You’re low down on the list of priorities.

Everything else – the action sequences, the main storyline, or whatever – that’s all going to be worked out before they get to you.”

However, the Skyfall actress says it is possible to make suggestions to help the screenwriters rewrite the part or make it more realistic, as they might just be struggling to write from the female perspective.

“Maybe it’s because so few scripts are written by women, so maybe the men feel they don’t understand this female role,” she explained. “Maybe that’s why, when you say, ‘I think the character would do or say this’ they are receptive, I’ve found, because they’re hungry for that sort of information – they just don’t have it themselves.”

The 41-year-old is currently entertaining cinema audiences alongside Dwayne Johnson in monster movie Rampage, and she explains she took it on because it was such a departure from the drug-addicted mother she became known for in Moonlight.

“After Moonlight, I did get a lot of offers, but they were all very much along the lines of (character) Paula. So, ‘Do you want to play the haggard mother’ or ‘do you want to play the crack addict’. And I read (the Rampage script) and was like, ‘This is nothing like Paula! Completely the opposite!'” she smiled.