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Lakeith Stanfield put together a scene-stealing performance when he portrayed FBI informant William O’Neal in Judas and The Black Messiah. Yet, to do this, Stanfield had to explore some darker parts of himself to bring the character to life, which has now thrown off his emotional equilibrium once the production wrapped.
During a recent interview with Level, Stanfield revealed that he had to go to therapy after Judas and The Black Messiah. He explains that his connection to Fred Hampton, actor Daniel Kaluuya, and the story made it hard for him to separate his real emotions from acting. He points to a cut scene of him having to poison Hampton as an example.
“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 emotions,” he said. “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.”
Playing the role of such a loathed figure in history also took a physical toll on Stanfield. He recalled experiencing panic attacks and other crucial moments where he realized therapy was needed.
“So sometimes your body thinks that’s real, everything you’re putting it through. It’s no wonder I’ve been feeling so stressed out and having panic attacks. I realized going forward before I step into something like that again, maybe have a therapist,” he said before touching on how therapy helps him as a person and actor.
“I’ve found this really cool therapist. It’s great and perfect for me right now. Hopefully, it continues to be the case. It’s helped me a lot. After doing press yesterday, I had another session and it was amazing,” he continued. “It helps you unlock things about yourself. It’s not even necessarily about the person that you’re doing therapy with, but like you said, perspectives and strategies and tools that you didn’t have access to before.”