Before Viola Davis brings Harriet Tubman to life in an upcoming HBO Films biography, another Academy Award nominee from "The Help" has done so in slightly different — and much drunker — fashion.
Octavia Spencer, who won the Best Supporting Actress prize for her role in the 2011 drama, portrayed the famed abolitionist who called Auburn home on last week's episode of Comedy Central's "Drunk History." The show, which began as a Web series, is self-explanatory: Comedians get drunk and tell a historical tale, then big-name actors recreate it. The rule, and the running gag, is that the actors have to lip-sync the drunken narration — hiccups, occasional vomit and all.
Crissle West, a rocks glass of brown liquor in hand, told the story of Tubman spying for the Union and leading the Combahee River Raid during the Civil War. As can be expected, the show's premise invites some exaggeration, if not outright fantasy. Take the speech Spencer's Tubman gave Union troops before the raid:
"Listen, I'm not even about to bulls--t you: This is about to be some bulls--t," West said. "This is about to be like a real stealth operation. You motherf--kers have never seen no s--t like this before. Like, I got some dope-ass s--t planned out. But I need y'all to all be down and just do what the f--k I say. I got this s--t."
Spencer mouthed West's animated words in hilariously no-nonsense fashion, making the segment one of the better ones in "Drunk History," uh, history. And West correctly pointed out that Tubman's leadership resulted in the freeing of 750 slaves, and went down as the first American military operation led by a woman. However many drinks deep, her reverence for Tubman was clear:
"She was just dope as hell."