The actor sought out therapy after portraying FBI informant William O’Neal in the Fred Hampton biopic.
Over the last few weeks, critics and pedestrians have raved over the gripping performance of Lakeith Stanfield in Judas and The Black Messiah. But, as he details in a new interview, the part of William O’Neal, an FBI informant who infiltrated the Black Panthers, took a toll on the 29-year-old actor.
Speaking with LEVEL, Stanfield recalls how his relationship with Hampton’s teachings and Daniel Kaluuya (the actor portraying the Black Panther Chairman in the film,) made his role borderline traumatizing. “In the scene where I had to poison him, a lot of it didn’t end up making it to the final cut, but we shot [me mixing it in] Kool-Aid, and I had to go through all those motions. With somebody like Daniel, who I just respect as a human and an artist, as Fred Hampton, it felt like I was actually poisoning Chairman Fred Hampton,” Stanfield admits in the interview.
He goes on to attribute panic attacks and being generally overwhelmed by stress to filming the movie, which made it clear he’d need a therapist moving forward. “One thing Dominique Fishback mentioned to me is that your body doesn’t always differentiate the experience from your imagination. So sometimes your body thinks that’s real, everything you’re putting it through,” Stanfield adds.
In a recent interview with The Breakfast Club, Kaluuya stomped out Charlamagne’s attempt at reigniting beef with Stanfield, testifying to how difficult the role was for his co-star. “That’s not his politics at all. It was really tough on him some days. He was really going through it,” Kaluuya tells the show’s host.