When Naomie Harris Decided it Was OK to Play a Crack Addict (Video)

Toronto 2016: “I’d always drawn the line… but the script was so beautiful,” “Moonlight” star tells TheWrap

Last Updated: September 11, 2016 @ 12:52 PM

Naomie Harris, arguably best known for playing Moneypenny in the latest set of James Bond films, never wanted to play a crack addict.

But with Barry Jenkins’ sophomore film “Moonlight,” she couldn’t resist the opportunity to portray Paula, who she described to TheWrap as having “many more layers and complexity.”

Understandably, Harris has always sought to avoid the cliched roles often handed to black actresses. “I’d always drawn the line and said, ‘I’ll never play a crack addict’ — because I want to portray positivity,” the English actress said during an interview at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival.

“But the script was so beautiful,” she said of the film, which debuted to ecstatic applause at the annual film festival on Saturday night in Toronto.

The film is about the treacherous world of drug dealing, crack addiction, love, poverty, family and sexual identity in 1990s Miami and marks the long awaited followup to Jenkins’ widely celebrated 2008 drama “Medicine for Melancholy.”

“Barry was so convincing in terms of telling me why it was an important role to take on,” Harris said of the writer-director.

“Here’s an opportunity to play a crack addict in a completely different way,” she added, citing her character’s multiple layers and added complexity.

“As actors that’s really what we’re doing — we inhabit souls,” said Harris.

A24’s “Moonlight” is executive produced by Brad Pitt and stars relative newcomer Trevante Rhodes as a man named Chiron. The film covers three different time periods in his life, as he confronts the struggles presented by his rough neighborhood and comes to terms with his sexuality.

The film is based on the play “In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue” by Tarell Alvin McCraney and marks the first feature to be developed in-house at indie film distributor A24.