LaKeith Stanfield played a brainwashed man in Get Out, a mute philosopher in Atlanta, and a code-switching telemarketer hunted by Armie Hammer in Sorry to Bother You, all before securing a therapist. In a new interview with Level, the actor discussed the toll playing William O’Neal in Shaka King’s Judas and the Black Messiah took on his mental health. The new film follows FBI informant O’Neal as he struggles with the decision to assassinate Black Panther Party chairman Fred Hampton, played by Stanfield’s Get Out brother Daniel Kaluuya. “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,” 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.” He says co-star Dominique Fishback told him that sometimes “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,” he explained. “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 later confirmed that he secured a therapist this year, just in time for Judas and the Black Messiah’s delayed release.
Stanfield’s love for co-star Kaluuya is so wholesome, especially because this is the second time the Skins alum has stolen a role from him. “You know what, for Get Out I auditioned for like every role. I came in and I read with Jordan Peele. And then I read for another — I think it was Rel’s role — and ended up eventually reading for my role,” he said. “Damn, I forgot all about that.” He holds no grudges against Kaluuya or the casting directors. “If they’d asked me to play a hat in this movie, I would’ve done it,” he added.