There was a moment recording “Judas and the Black Messiah” that star Daniel Kaluuya will never forget.
In the scene, Kaluuya as Black Panther leader Fred Hampton delivers his famous “I am a revolutionary” speech.
“It’s not like I became him, I felt like he was there,” Kaluuya recently told CNN. “I felt like he was coming through me, like he was in the room.”
Powerful Movie Plot
The powerful film tells the story of Hampton, who was killed during a police raid on his home at the age of 21, after working hard as a Blank Panther in Chicago to help disadvantaged people and build relationships between rival factions.
The movie tells the story of a historical figure with timely themes, Kaluuya said.
“This film and what what Chairman Fred said and what the Black Panther Party stood for is able to articulate how a lot of people feel in this current moment,” he said. “I feel last year, after the murders of George Floyd and Breeona Taylor, there was a lot of feeling.”
“And I remember Shaka [King, the movie’s director] speaking to the rest of the class, thinking, wow, like these guys said exactly what was happening right now,” Kaluuya added. “Not only did they say it, but they had strategies and plans to help combat and to help deal with things and help empower people for themselves.”
The film also re-unites Kaluya and his co-star from “Get Out” Lakeith Stanfield, who plays the role of William O’Neal, a man who sneaked into Hampton’s gang at the behest of the FBI and eventually betrayed him to authorities.
“Lakeith’s amazing man, he’s just an incredible talent,” Kaluuya said. “It’s amazing to have someone walking the same path as you. With ‘GetOut’ and ‘Judas,’ we’ve had two unique experiences.”
“Daniel is cool, he works hard, he’s always nice to be with him, he’s a smart person and we get along,” Stanfield told CNN. “Hopefully we can do more things together.”
‘I’m A Revolutionary’
Stanfield said the “I’m a revolutionary” moment was good.
“It crescendoed up,” he said. “It was a unique thing to see all these beautiful Black skin and Afros holding up a centralized thought.”
Both of these men worked hard at assembling the real men they showed – something very difficult at Stanfield because there were very few sources available through O’Neal.
“Because he was doing secret operations with the FBI, his identity and all the things about him, were not very well known, obviously, at the time,” Stanfield said. “So, I didn’t have a lot to work with, but I had his interview from [the documentary] ‘Eyes on the Prize’ [in which O’Neal appeared] and a couple of court transcripts, as well as a couple of stories of second-hand accounts and views of who he was and what he did.”
With that, the actor pieced together a performance of a man who regrets what he feels he must do in order to prevent law enforcement from punishing him for his own crimes.
Kaluuya said he met Fred Hampton Jr. and his mother (shown in the film by actor Dominique Fishback) for many hours and listened intently to learn more about the man who he had only known bits and pieces about prior to signing on to the film.
Stanfield said he had taken a strong stance on the project.
“To continue on the idea that there’s power where there’s people with a centralized understanding and goals and ambitions,” he said. “That’s a beautiful truth to be reaffirmed through this project.”
“Judas and the Black Messiah” will be released on Friday.”