If you can’t decide if Lakeith Stanfield is an exciting, emerging Hollywood talent or an underrated pearl amongst actors, it’s because he’s both. The 28 year old has found a place in the center of the most buzzed-about releases in the last few years alone. He’s given a face to a civil rights activist Jimmie Lee Jackson in Ava DuVernay’s SELMA, played a part in the coming-of-age Central LA drug story DOPE, and shed light on a wrongly convicted prisoner in CROWN HEIGHTS. And this only scratches the surface of his accomplishments.
This Valentine’s Day, Lakeith Stanfield will play the leading man in the romantic dramedy THE PHOTOGRAPH. As Mae (Issa Rae) delves into her late mother’s past, she makes an unexpected romantic connection with the journalist (Stanfield) writing a story on her. Before you check out this exciting release in theatres, let’s dive into Stanfield’s best roles so far.
Short Term 12
Lakeith Stanfield’s first acting role ever was a short film by JUST MERCY’s writer/director Destin Daniel Cretton. When Cretton set out to make a feature-length movie years later, he couldn’t find another actor more qualified than young Stanfield for Marcus. SHORT TERM 12 stars Oscar®-winning actors Brie Larson and Rami Malek as staff members of a group home for at-risk teens. Stanfield’s character is one of the older kids in the home. Marcus has a genuine sensibility to him, and he challenges Larson’s character as she wrestles with demons of her own. It’s an early indication of Stanfield’s on-screen charm.
The actor also had a small but memorable role to play in Jordan Peele’s modern horror classic, GET OUT. Lakeith Stanfield’s Logan King is the character that gets Daniel Kaluuya’s Chris suspicious about the peculiar family estate that his girlfriend has brought him to. Chris finds himself in a predominantly white party and finds comfort in seeing Logan. But, he is behaving very strangely and is married to a much older woman. Chris tries to take an inconspicuous picture of him, but Stanfield’s character goes bonkers. He even has the honor of saying the titular phrase, "get out," in the movie. Of course, that’s just the start of the rabbit hole of terror Peele takes us down.
Just last year, Lakeith Stanfield found roles in a couple of awards season’s most-talked about films, such as Rian Johnson’s modern whodunit, KNIVES OUT. In the star-studded flick, Stanfield plays one of the detectives placed on the case of the sudden death of Christopher Plummer’s patriarch, Harlan Thrombey. His character, Lieutenant Elliott, works alongside Daniel Craig’s Benoit Blanc in this fun dive into the murder mystery genre. He’s a welcome addition to the ensemble, featuring the likes of Jamie Lee Curtis, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, Michael Shannon and Toni Collette.
Stanfield also got to dip his feet in the Safdie brothers’ anxiety-fueled fever dream UNCUT GEMS. Stanfield plays Demany, a shady assistant to Adam Sandler’s career-defining performance as Howard Ratner. As Sandler’s character becomes encroached in the consequences of his decisions, Stanfield has a particularly interesting role to play. As the chaos emerges, Demany is the strangely laid-back jewelry hustler who is unfazed by it all. But, he definitely gets his share of beatings, too.
Sorry To Bother You
Lakeith Stanfield is well-known as an effective supporting actor. But in SORRY TO BOTHER YOU, he shows what he can really do as the lead. In this trippy, satirical delight by Boots Riley, Stanfield plays Cassius Green. He is a telemarketer in an alternate Oakland, who puts on a "white voice" in order to get sales. When he starts to get a hang of being a salesman and the money starts to roll in, Cassius begins to neglect his friends and co-workers, who are angered by the company’s mistreatment of its employees. SORRY TO BOTHER YOU is a truly unique commentary on capitalism, racism and slave labor — and a key film to Lakeith’s booming career.
Lakeith Stanfield's new film, THE PHOTOGRAPH, is in theatres now. Get your tickets.