Five Favorite Films

Naomie Harris' Five Favorite Films

The star of the recent James Bond films and this week's Swan Song on reuniting with her Moonlight co-star Mahershala Ali and her love for comedies and musicals.

by | December 15, 2021 | Comments

Naomie Harris at the 2020 BAFTA Awards

(Photo by Future Publishing/Getty Images)

Despite her 20-year career on the big screen, rarely has Naomie Harris been cast in roles that display her innate tenderness. She first broke out in Danny Boyle’s post-apocalyptic zombie thriller 28 Days Later, and roles in blockbuster action films — in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise and in the recent James Bond films as the flirtatious, assured MI6 agent Eve Moneypenny — soon followed. Not since Barry Jenkins’ Best Picture-winning Moonlight, however, wherein she played the tragic, drug addict mother to Chiron, has Harris been allowed to display her full dramatic range.

This year, however, has been different. On top of starring turns in No Time to Die and Venom: Let There Be Carnage, she reteams with her Moonlight co-star Mahershala Ali in Benjamin Cleary’s melancholic sci-fi drama Swan Song.

In Cleary’s film, set in the not too distant future, Harris portrays Cameron Turner’s (Mahershala Ali) wife Poppy. The couple live an apparent dream life: They have a precocious son, live in a well-to-do neighborhood, and love each other immensely. A dire secret, however, is hiding in plain sight: Cameron is dying. Rather than tell Poppy she might lose him forever, he seeks an alternative solution. A tech company run by Dr. Scott (Glenn Close) can transplant his memories into a cloned body, and his clone will take his place, while the real Cameron will die in obscurity with his wife none the wiser.

While Swan Song does find dramatic urgency in Cameron’s moral dilemma — should he tell his wife? — and in the bevy of painful memories he must relive to enact a heartbreaking separation from his family, it’s the tenderness between Harris and Ali that elevates the film beyond its intriguing sci-fi premise. Harris especially taps into an emotional fissure that’s the complete opposite to her prior roles: There’s gentleness, a funniness and coyness within Poppy, along with a real hurt contouring Harris’ performance.

Following the film’s premiere at AFI Fest, we caught up with Harris to talk about reuniting with Ali, how she sees Cameron’s moral dilemma, and what makes true love work. We also discussed her Five Favorite Films, during whish she expressed her adoration for comedies and musicals.

Naomie Harris’ Five Favorite Films

The Sound of Music (1965)


Oh my gosh. I think I was like 13 when I first watched it, and I love musicals. I was just absolutely in heaven. And Julie Andrews, she’s just amazing. I loved all the songs, and I thought it was a really beautiful movie. I’ve watched it 13 times, I think.

Would you ever want to do a musical?

I would, if I could sing and I could dance. That would be helpful. But unfortunately I can’t do either of those, so no. [laughs] But I would love to be in a musical. If someone could train me up or dub my voice and put their two feet where my feet go. That would be amazing.

Jerry Maguire (1996)


I really love Jerry Maguire. I think it’s a fantastic comedy filled with some amazing truths and life lessons. The performances are also incredible.

When was the first time you watched Jerry Maguire?

I don’t really remember the first time I saw it. I know it was at the cinema. That’s for sure. That was back in the day when you pretty much watched everything in the cinema. It was great to have an experience with an audience, and I think that’s the best way. I love watching comedies with an audience. It’s a shame that we do more and more watching on our own, because there’s something so wonderful about sharing that experience with other people.

Parasite (2019)


My third would be Parasite, which is much more recent. I absolutely love that movie because there are just so many different twists and turns. The ending is entirely unexpected and it’s so creative in the way that it’s shot and written.

Parasite winning Best Picture felt like our last collective feel-good moment.

That’s so true, actually. Maybe that’s another reason why I like it. I associated it with happier times. With freedom.

1917 (2019)


Sam Mendes’ film was amazing, which I think was partly based on his grandfather’s story or something like that, right? That was absolutely incredible. I loved the way that was shot. I thought it was absolutely extraordinary. That opening sequence with that one take and most of the movie was shot just in one long take. Along with all of those stunts, I thought it was absolutely incredible.

And then I love Emma Thompson’s Sense and Sensibility. I’m a huge fan of Jane Austen and I thought it was a really fantastic adaptation. And Kate Winslet, I believe was in it as well. And Emma is so great.

Emma Thompson’s a great comedic actress. Do you gravitate toward comedies?

I love comedies. I really do. I wish that I was more comedic. I’ve just finished a TV show where I get to be a little bit comedic, so it’s really great. I’m always like, “I’m not funny at all.” I think people find me funny in real life. My family and friends do find me very funny. But in acting somehow I always end up playing the super serious roles.

Mahershala Ali and Naomie Harris in Swan Song

(Photo by Kimberley French/©Apple TV+)

Robert Daniels for Rotten Tomatoes: Swan Song reunites you with your Moonlight co-star Mahershala Ali. In this, you play lovers as opposed to adversaries. What was it like flipping the script, so to speak, with Mahershala?

Naomie Harris: When I worked with Mahershala on Moonlight, we actually spent very little time working because I think we only had a day to shoot our scenes together. When we were doing all the publicity and the awards campaign for Moonlight, we spent months with each other. But with the actual filming, there was very little time. It was really interesting to be asked by Mahershala to be in Swan Song because I was really intrigued to see how we would work together. And the wonderful thing is, we work in a very similar way, because we don’t really like rehearsals, and we don’t really like talking about the script a lot. We both like to prepare on our own and then come together and see in the moment what the other person has done. We just feel like we create more magic and it has more spontaneity, and you find truth constantly in the moment rather than something you’ve kind of prepared.

Rotten Tomatoes: It isn’t unusual for a film not to be shot chronologically, but Swan Song is so non-linear, it must have been a particular challenge.

Harris: Yeah. I don’t know the last time or if I’ve ever had the opportunity to shoot linear. I think lots of filmmakers would like that to happen, but you know, just the scheduling and location availability and so on. You have to have a great director like Ben [Cleary] who keeps you on track, basically, and reminds you of where you are emotionally. It’s such a privilege when you have a director who’s also written the material, so he knows the material inside out. He’s lived with these characters. Ben was working on this project for 10 years, so he was amazing in terms of being able to guide us. But then we’ve also done our own research; we are able to chart for ourselves the journey of our characters. That’s one of the skills that you have to have in every project you do, because you are always flipping backwards in time.

Naomie Harris in Swan Song

(Photo by Apple TV+)

Rotten Tomatoes: At times, this movie reminded me of Lulu Wang’s The Farewell, in the sense that a character’s health status is kept from loved ones so as not to hurt them. In this case, with Swan Song, it’s Cameron not telling Poppy. What’s your read on the film’s central dilemma?

Harris: It’s really difficult. I’ve changed my mind all the time about this because I do understand the decision that he made because of his particular circumstances: Poppy’s pregnant and then she’s also lost her brother as well. She’s been through a hell of a lot of grief, and she’s in this fragile state. Cameron just thinks that Poppy will not be able to cope with his death on top of everything else that she’s been through. That’s why he makes that choice for her. If it were not for those extenuating circumstances, then I wonder whether he would’ve made that choice. Because I think if Poppy had known she would never have wanted Cameron to die on his own.

Rotten Tomatoes: I personally don’t know what I would do.

Harris: It’s a really interesting dilemma. It’s the same dilemma that parents are faced with constantly, because it’s all about “how much pain do I save my children from suffering?” As a parent, you never want them to experience any [emotional] pain. But, actually, through that pain they learn resilience, and they learn self-sufficiency, and they also learn how to grow. So there’s a real gift in pain. When we are depriving someone of their pain, we deprive them of growth. It’s a really complex decision. You can change by the hour and feel very strongly about it this way, and then the next moment you feel very strongly in the opposite direction.

Naomie Harris and Mahershala Ali in Swan Song

(Photo by Apple TV+)

Rotten Tomatoes: What do you hope people take from Swan Song?

Harris: I really hope that their hearts are touched and that they’re reminded about real love. Because I think so often what we’re presented with within movies is not a presentation of real love at all; it’s a lot of lust dressed up as love. It’s so wonderful to have a real relationship with two people who’ve known each other for a really long period of time, who know each other inside and out, their flaws and all, and they still love each other and are willing to put each other first, before their own needs and desires and their own happiness. That’s what true love is about. It is sacrificial. It is about putting the other person first. So I hope that this is a great reminder of what love is.

Swan Song is in theaters and available on Apple TV+ on Friday, December 17, 2021. 

On an Apple device? Follow Rotten Tomatoes on Apple News.

Thumbnail images by: ©20th Century Fox Film Corp., Andrew Cooper/©TriStar Pictures, ©Neon, Francois Duhamel/©Universal Pictures, ©Columbia Pictures courtesy Everett Collection

Tag Cloud

richard e. Grant DC streaming service Focus Features BET Awards Family Sundance TV hidden camera 1990s zombie revenge disaster transformers chucky CBS international Best Actor zombies Super Bowl Spectrum Originals cancelled television true crime Alien Set visit movie king kong ABC spain obituary Mystery classics A&E miniseries Vudu Shudder lord of the rings Superheroes 79th Golden Globes Awards asian-american Countdown Mudbound franchise Disney+ Disney Plus 2016 all-time 20th Century Fox cops fresh comic superman Fantasy Pixar biography Cosplay USA sag awards zero dark thirty rotten Pacific Islander comics crime Hallmark italian YouTube Premium GIFs hispanic cartoon Ellie Kemper what to watch quibi summer TV preview FX on Hulu blockbuster TLC art house anime festivals A24 dark teaser Amazon Prime Video Syfy sequels New York Comic Con worst halloween TBS comic book movie scene in color film series Brie Larson Box Office Tags: Comedy joker Anna Paquin Emmy Nominations mockumentary kaiju Stephen King DirecTV leaderboard festival Superheroe Trophy Talk hollywood universal monsters video on demand independent ITV nfl Broadway El Rey Comics on TV Best Director 71st Emmy Awards Valentine's Day book adaptation venice Premiere Dates news Video Games AMC Plus Binge Guide Crunchyroll Mindy Kaling Reality Competition historical drama romance godzilla Oscars cancelled TV One Sneak Peek dramedy Music Discovery Channel trailers ABC Signature Disney Plus PBS Martial Arts new york RT21 period drama BET live action 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards heist movie Image Comics vampires Lucasfilm SDCC CW Seed Infographic Netflix Christmas movies harry potter Tumblr game show tv talk popular travel Epix Hallmark Christmas movies 4/20 feel good BBC romantic comedy Rocky adventure saw PlayStation women young adult Apple Crackle telelvision X-Men Podcast HBO Go Disney streaming service Esquire YouTube Red finale The Walt Disney Company criterion Lifetime See It Skip It Wes Anderson Best Actress batman The Arrangement MGM Geeked Week name the review 2020 rt labs target jurassic park HBO Turner Summer streamig Action rom-coms canceled TV shows Amazon Studios Chilling Adventures of Sabrina 72 Emmy Awards OneApp National Geographic cancelled TV series basketball Mary Poppins Returns toronto summer preview MTV australia posters Best and Worst OWN scary movies Oscar Comedy Central police drama Spring TV CBS All Access CNN Dark Horse Comics Bravo scary screen actors guild best Avengers TV supernatural comedies Extras dreamworks christmas movies hist psychological thriller cancelled TV shows foreign Grammys pirates of the caribbean mutant 93rd Oscars films critics BBC One scorecard cinemax stand-up comedy die hard Cannes action-comedy Classic Film kong Instagram Live crime drama Awards Tour Apple TV+ Rocketman IMDb TV kids social media television deadpool aliens Opinion 45 stoner king arthur spanish language 2019 HFPA WarnerMedia gangster Best Picture 21st Century Fox japanese Turner Classic Movies Starz satire 94th Oscars Apple TV Plus Comic Book GoT Writers Guild of America Character Guide indie The Witch AMC TV renewals comiccon golden globes USA Network HBO Max children's TV TCA Winter 2020 Travel Channel Tarantino video debate Paramount Pictures versus Schedule emmy awards twilight laika green book Women's History Month theme song Elton John japan critic resources Nominations movies NBC cults robots award winner breaking bad documentaries razzies sitcom comic books The Walking Dead Mary poppins 007 VH1 99% hispanic heritage month Baby Yoda Legendary black Exclusive Video scene in color series cats singing competition sequel a nightmare on elm street NYCC slashers adenture San Diego Comic-Con french MCU Hulu crossover Universal Pictures Drama based on movie rotten movies we love crime thriller Native natural history Trailer dc boxoffice broadcast blaxploitation PaleyFest trophy Shondaland Endgame 2021 Sony Pictures interviews biopic GLAAD parents Nickelodeon YA rt labs critics edition Awards royal family NBA IFC Films FOX canceled justice league Pride Month Tomatazos superhero space Rom-Com legend Amazon SundanceTV Walt Disney Pictures nature CMT TIFF President renewed TV shows BAFTA boxing unscripted VICE 73rd Emmy Awards politics Paramount Columbia Pictures Amazon Prime TruTV Fall TV Film binge Universal prank animated Tokyo Olympics Musical Musicals Black Mirror Fox News 2017 mcc Certified Fresh Reality black comedy ABC Family APB Nat Geo anthology Ovation free movies Winter TV screenings game of thrones Film Festival war Hear Us Out discovery FXX wonder woman reboot Warner Bros. sports dexter E! adaptation Marvel Television The Academy cars Holidays Ghostbusters 24 frames TCA Star Trek Sundance Now rt archives Indigenous Tubi Disney Channel Disney History Teen Hollywood Foreign Press Association Neflix docuseries book fast and furious witnail Election DC Comics Toys elevated horror Photos thriller ID SXSW blockbusters spanish Country south america Comic-Con@Home 2021 The CW South by Southwest Film Festival Masterpiece Fargo MSNBC Paramount Network Lifetime Christmas movies Sony LGBT james bond E3 Trivia TCA Awards doctor who American Society of Cinematographers Netflix documentary strong female leads spinoff medical drama Heroines dogs Creative Arts Emmys Academy Awards Marvel Studios marvel cinematic universe Marvel Television Critics Association Logo ESPN Horror serial killer talk show scene in color Comedy DGA mob dragons ViacomCBS VOD political drama Thanksgiving obi wan marvel comics FX WGN Spike archives golden globe awards Fox Searchlight Star Wars Celebration series indiana jones RT History DC Universe Peacock Food Network reviews genre worst movies jamie lee curtis Rock TV movies target scene in color Cartoon Network Showtime Captain marvel aapi diversity new zealand toy story stop motion Chernobyl 90s Calendar cooking halloween tv spider-man remakes composers sopranos comic book movies LGBTQ live event technology slasher Funimation spy thriller Acorn TV streaming Kids & Family First Reviews Red Carpet TNT directors streaming movies TCM TV Land Pirates Pop TV Interview The Purge new star wars movies BBC America suspense First Look science fiction TCA 2017 docudrama Television Academy know your critic Mary Tyler Moore concert 2015 Holiday high school Year in Review football Quiz spider-verse Christmas IFC Lionsgate latino psycho nbcuniversal Emmys Sundance Biopics mission: impossible facebook casting Star Wars Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Winners child's play ratings Song of Ice and Fire Freeform Marathons summer TV ghosts vs. Paramount Plus SXSW 2022 Arrowverse 2018 YouTube Polls and Games olympics Britbox werewolf monster movies Western Watching Series Pop Pet Sematary dceu Sci-Fi Prime Video Adult Swim Black History Month Animation