Lakeith Stanfield had panic attacks from ‘Judas And The Black Messiah’ role: “Sometimes your body thinks that’s real”

"It felt like I was actually poisoning Chairman Fred Hampton"

Lakeith Stanfield has revealed he went to therapy to help manage panic attacks he’d experienced while filming Judas And The Black Messiah.

Stanfield, who portrays FBI informant William O’Neal in the film, said he found playing the role of the bad guy so mentally and physically taxing that he ended up seeking help.

The actor highlighted a cut scene where he has to poison Black Panther leader Fred Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya) 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 told Level.

“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.”

Judas and the Black Messiah
LaKeith Stanfield (foreground) and Daniel Kaluuya (background) in ‘Judas and the Black Messiah’. Credit: Warner Bros.

He went on to explain that depicting such a hated figure in history impacted him away from the camera. “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 realised going forward before I step into something like that again, maybe have a therapist. I’ve found this really cool therapist. It’s great and perfect for me right now.

He continued: “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.

“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.”

Judas And The Black Messiah is out now in US in cinemas and on HBO Max. It premieres in the UK on February 26, with the streaming service to be revealed upon release.

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