'Judas and the Black Messiah': Lakeith Stanfield slams controversy over Kaluuya casting (exclusive)

Tom Beasley
·Contributor
·3-min read

Watch: Lakeith Stanfield discusses working with Daniel Kaluuya (NSFW)

Lakeith Stanfield has dismissed the controversy around casting a British actor as Black Panther Party leader Fred Hampton in Judas and the Black Messiah, saying 'that's what it means to act'.

Get Out star Daniel Kaluuya portrays Hampton in the movie, alongside Stanfield as FBI informant William O'Neal.

Director Shaka King has defended the decision to cast Kaluuya as Hampton, but that hasn't stopped some complaining about an American icon being portrayed by an actor from the other side of the Atlantic.

The same criticism has been levelled at Cynthia Erivo's portrayal of Harriet Tubman, David Oyelowo's take on Martin Luther King and even Kaluuya's work in Get Out.

Read more: Kaluuya discusses "real challenge" of Fred Hampton role

"I was mad at people trying to be like 'ooh, he's British' and 'he can't play it because he's British'," Stanfield tells Yahoo Entertainment UK.

He adds: "I feel what you're saying but, at the same time, he's a brilliant actor. He interprets it in a way that's human. It ain't about British or American and all that dumb-a** s***.

Lakeith Stanfield and Daniel Kaluuya in 'Judas and the Black Messiah'. (Credit: Glen Wilson/Warner Bros)
Lakeith Stanfield and Daniel Kaluuya in 'Judas and the Black Messiah'. (Credit: Glen Wilson/Warner Bros)

"It's a real human being taking on some s*** and being real human in the space. Are y'all stupid? That's the only thing that matters.

"He did a very f***ing great job, so I don't want to hear that British s***. I'm tired of that. Daniel is British, but he's a brilliant f***ing actor and that's what it means to act."

Read more: Antonio Campos discusses Brits taking over Hollywood

Stanfield and Kaluuya previously shared the screen in Get Out, which catapulted both into a new echelon of stardom and roles to match.

Now, Stanfield is full of nothing but praise for his co-star's hard work and commitment to his craft.

Lakeith Stanfield and Daniel Kaluuya embrace at the 90th Annual Academy Awards on March 4, 2018. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images)
Lakeith Stanfield and Daniel Kaluuya embrace at the 90th Annual Academy Awards on March 4, 2018. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images)

"Sometimes people try to phone it in and give the bare minimum, but there are some people who really care about their craft," says Stanfield.

"It's meaningful to us because that's what we do. It's meaningful for me to have someone like him who cares, who works hard and who gives his life to the craft."

Read more: Kaluuya suffers technical difficulties as he claims Golden Globe

Kaluuya has similarly positive words to say about Stanfield, who he describes as an "incredible talent" and "such an interesting person".

He adds: "It's amazing [to work with Stanfield], especially to spend more time together and really get into something and be side to side on a project.

"How he sees the world is really unique, so it was great to spend some real time with him."

Lakeith Stanfield as FBI informant William O'Neal in 'Judas and the Black Messiah'. (Credit: Warner Bros)
Lakeith Stanfield as FBI informant William O'Neal in 'Judas and the Black Messiah'. (Credit: Warner Bros)

Judas and the Black Messiah follows Hampton's tenure as chairman of the Chicago branch of the Black Panther Party, as well as the FBI's attempts to infiltrate the organisation — leading to Hampton's death in 1969.

Jesse Plemons stars as O'Neal's FBI handler, while Martin Sheen dons facial prosthetics to portray the bureau's director J. Edgar Hoover.

Read more: Judas cast discuss getting Fred Hampton's story right

The cast also includes Dominique Fishback, Lil Rel Howery and Jermaine Fowler, who can currently be seen on Amazon Prime Video in comedy sequel Coming 2 America.

Judas and the Black Messiah is due to be released on VOD platforms in the UK from 11 March.

Watch: Trailer for Judas and the Black Messiah