Judas & the Black Messiah Star LaKeith Standfield details how filming a heartbreaking scene in the movie led to panic attacks and he saw a therapist.

LaKeith Stanfield opens up about having panic attacks while filming difficult scenes for Judas and the Black Messiah, which helped her decide to go to therapy. Released in early February both in theaters and on HBO Max, Judas and the Black Messiah follows the untold story of Fred Hampton, a charismatic black activist and chairman of the Black Panther Party, assassinated at the age of 21. Directed by Shaka King, the film features Daniel Kaluuya as Fred Hampton, Stanfield as FBI informant Bill O’Neal. and Jesse Plemons as FBI Agent Roy Mitchell.

Judas and the Black Messiah tell Hampton’s story through the eyes of O’Neal, the FBI informant who allegedly poisoned Hampton. O’Neal is recruited by the FBI, who directs him to infiltrate the Black Panther Party. He soon becomes Hampton’s security captain, gaining the exclusivity necessary to poison Hampton by mixing secobarbital into his Kool-Aid, or so the climactic scene in Judas and the Black Messiah. O’Neal never publicly confessed to the murder in real life, nor was he charged with poisoning Hampton.

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Related: Judas and the Black Messiah Casting Changes History in a Big Way

Regardless, the movie did include the scene showing O’Neal poisoning the Kool-Aid, but the simple act was not easy to film. In an interview with Level, Stanfield talks about why filming this moment was extremely emotional and led to his panic attacks. You can read his full explanation below:

In the scene where I had to poison him, a lot of it didn’t end up making the final cut, but we shot [me mixing it in] Kool-Aid, and I had to do all those moves. With someone like Daniel, whom I simply respect as a human and as an artist, like Fred Hampton, I felt like I was actually poisoning President Fred Hampton. One thing [co-star] Dominique Fishback told me that your body doesn’t always differentiate experience from your imagination. So sometimes your body thinks that’s real, everything you’re going through. No wonder I have been feeling so stressed and having panic attacks. I realized to keep going before I get into something like that again, maybe I have a therapist.

Lakeith Stanfield in Judas and the Black Messiah

This vulnerability that Stanfield puts into his performance is the reason the 30-year-old actor has amassed such an impressive career. Whether in Atlanta, Salt, Someone cool, or Sorry to bother you, Stanfield has a talent for bringing authentic nuance and emotion to his roles, just as he did for Judas and the Black Messiah. While stress and panic are difficult feelings to overcome, Stanfield reflects in the same interview that it was worthwhile because it allowed the description of African American history that is too often overlooked. In addition, his experience on set led him to seek a therapist, which allowed him to learn new ways of facing the future.

Since its launch, reviews of Judas and the Black Messiah they have been overwhelmingly positive. This is partly due to the stellar actors and creative brains behind the film’s production. But it also shows that a large audience wants to see more black stories on the big screen. While Hollywood has improved in terms of representation, there is still room for improvement. As Stanfield says, “these stories are human stories,“and they deserve to be told.

Next: Explanation of J. Edgar Hoover’s War on Black Activists

Source: Level

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