'Judas and the Black Messiah's' LaKeith Stanfield Conflicted About Playing The Rat That Got Fred Hampton Killed
- Category: Interviews
- Created: Wednesday, 10 February 2021 18:20
- Published: Wednesday, 10 February 2021 19:09
- Written by Lupe R Haas
LaKeith Stanfield plays Bill O'Neil who was forced to be an FBI informant in Chairman Fred Hampton’s Black Panther party in the true story behind JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH. The actor explains to CineMovie he was conflicted about playing a “rat” that cost someone his life and movement.
In JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH, FBI informant William O’Neal (LaKeith Stanfield) infiltrates Fred Hampton’s (Kaluuya) Illinois’ chapter of the Black Panther party. It led to the eventual cold-blooded murder of Hampton by the Chicago police on orders from the FBI.
JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH also stars Jesse Plemons (Fargo) as the FBI agent who recruited O’Neal and Martin Sheen as FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover.
FBI informant William O’Neal (LaKeith Stanfield) infiltrates the Illinois Black Panther Party and is tasked with keeping tabs on their charismatic leader, Chairman Fred Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya). A career thief, O’Neal revels in the danger of manipulating both his comrades and his handler, Special Agent Roy Mitchell (Jesse Plemons). Hampton’s political prowess grows just as he’s falling in love with fellow revolutionary Deborah Johnson (Dominique Fishback). Meanwhile, a battle wages for O’Neal’s soul. Will he align with the forces of good? Or subdue Hampton and The Panthers by any means, as FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover (Martin Sheen) commands?
Inspired by true events, “Judas and the Black Messiah” is directed by Shaka King, marking his studio feature film directorial debut. The project originated with King and his writing partner, Will Berson, who co-wrote the screenplay, and Kenny Lucas & Keith Lucas, who co-wrote the story with Berson & King. King, who has a long relationship with filmmaker Ryan Coogler (“Black Panther,” “Creed,” “Fruitvale Station”), pitched the film to Coogler and Charles D. King (“Just Mercy,” “Fences”), who are producing the film with Shaka King. The executive producers are Sev Ohanian, Zinzi Coogler, Kim Roth, Poppy Hanks, Ravi Mehta, Jeff Skoll, Anikah McLaren, Aaron L. Gilbert, Jason Cloth, Ted Gidlow, and Niija Kuykendall.
“Judas and the Black Messiah” stars Oscar nominee Daniel Kaluuya (“Get Out,” “Widows,” “Black Panther”) as Fred Hampton and LaKeith Stanfield (“Atlanta,” “The Girl in the Spider’s Web”) as William O’Neal. The film also stars Jesse Plemons (“Vice,” “Game Night,” “The Post”), Dominique Fishback (“The Hate U Give,” “The Deuce”), Ashton Sanders (“The Equalizer 2,” “Moonlight”) and Martin Sheen (“The Departed,” TV’s “The West Wing,” TV’s “Grace & Frankie”).
The ensemble cast also includes Algee Smith (“The Hate U Give,” “Detroit”), Darrell Britt-Gibson (“Just Mercy,” “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”), Dominique Thorne (“If Beale Street Could Talk”), Amari Cheatom (“Roman J. Israel, Esq.,” “Django Unchained”), Caleb Eberhardt (“The Post”) and Lil Rel Howery (“Get Out”).
The behind-the-scenes creative team includes director of photography Sean Bobbitt (“12 Years a Slave,” “Widows”), production designer Sam Lisenco (“Shades of Blue”), editor Kristan Sprague (“Random Acts of Flyness”) and costume designer Charlese Antoinette Jones (“Raising Dion”). The music is by Craig Harris and Mark Isham.
Warner Bros. Pictures presents, in association with MACRO/Participant/BRON Creative, a MACRO Media/Proximity Production, a Film by Shaka King, “Judas and the Black Messiah.” The film is slated for release in theaters nationwide on February 12, 2021 and will be available in the U.S. on HBO Max for 31 days from theatrical release. It is distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures and has been rated R for violence and pervasive language.