February 9th, 2021The True Story of JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH


We were able to sit down with LaKeith Stanfield and writers Keith and Kenny Lucas to talk about their journey to bring JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH to theatres!

The Lucas Brothers were introduced to chairman Hampton’s story in college. “We were taking this African American studies course. It was a brief moment that we were talking about Fred Hampton. It was something that got imprinted in our subconscious. We thought, man this is such a crazy story, and no one really knows about it. It rubbed us the wrong way that it wasn’t a more widely known story. It was once we got into comedy and got into Hollywood a few years later, that we said how are we going to make this into a movie.

We knew that there was another script that was being developed, so we wanted to put an innovative twist on our biopic and focus on William O’Nell. The emotional journey that he had to go through. His whole story just felt cinematic to us.”

Even with the focus of the film being on his character LaKeith still had reservations about slipping into the skin of William O’Nell, the man that would betray the Black Panthers.

“When I first got the script for some reason, I just assumed I would be playing Fred, it didn’t even cross my mind that I would be playing anyone else. When I called the director Shaka, we talked about the story early on, I said this is exciting, I can’t wait to play Fred! I just kept talking and rambling and he just let me ramble for a while. Then there was a bit of silence for a moment and he said actually I was thinking of you for the role of William O’Nell. At first, I was really against it. I can’t play this dude there is no way! I hate this guy!

After I actually saw the documentary EYES ON THE PRIZE extended. I got an indication that a lot of the exterior vibrato that William was bringing in the interview, it was in between the words for me, there was a sense of regret. That was the thing that I thought was more interesting than all that other stuff. I went into thinking that I’m going to take that sliver of insecurity and magnify that to bring this character to life. I want to really get into what his fears were and making him more relatable to me could make him more relatable to people. I had internal conflict the whole time with everything the character was doing. You can kind of see that working in the character as well.”

Some moments in the film would leave LaKeith uncontrollably crying for what his character had to do, he was forced to internalize this in order to bring this remarkable performance to life for the big screen.

Due to this LaKeith is able to achieve a performance that is one of the best this year and will be talked about for years to come.


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