Millions of moviegoers have enjoyed her as Miss Moneypenny in the last two James Bond movies, but it is the small scale, immensely moving drama Moonlight that has scored Naomie Harris her first Golden Globe nomination. She was cited for her supporting performance as the main character’s mother — one of the critically acclaimed movie’s six nominations. It received the second largest haul on Monday morning, after La La Land‘s seven.
“This was a total passion project that I did just because I loved the script and I loved the work of [director] Barry Jenkins,” Harris tells EW. “And I didn’t expect any of this. None. Nothing. I don’t think any of us did. It’s crazy and incredible how people are turning out to see this movie and taking it into their hearts. The movie opened on two screens in New York and two screens in L.A. Now it’s being seen almost everywhere.”
Harris adds, excitedly, “It’s even coming to England very soon!” Those who’ve seen Harris’ heartbreaking role as a drug-addicted Miami woman in Moonlight might be surprised (despite the Bond appearances) that she’s a London-born, Cambridge-educated British actress.
Due to complications with her work visa, in fact, Harris was forced to film her entire performance in Moonlight in three days. She tells EW that the movie’s ensemble cast deserves special credit. “The film works because everybody delivers an extraordinary performance,” she says, “and that’s because Barry created an environment that was safe enough for us all to do so.” Harris cites the three actors who play her son in different ages — Alex Hibbert, Ashton Sanders, and Trevante Rhodes — as “just simply phenomenal and they all deserve huge recognition.”
Harris also mentions the deeper significance behind Moonlight‘s success. The movie has earned more than $10 million since opening in October, doubling the cost of its production budget.
“Art should move people and also help people see life in a different way,” she tells EW. “This film is one of those rare pieces of art that actually does that. It has the ability to change the way people look at life. I think it’s a really healing antidote, since at the moment we have these really divisive politics, which separate us from each other. And this is a film that reminds us of our shared humanity. We need that now more than ever.”