Lakeith Stanfield Says He Turned to Therapy After Judas and the Black Messiah: Scenes Felt 'Real'

Lakeith Stanfield had to prioritize his mental health after starring in Judas and the Black Messiah.

The movie follows Black Panther chairman Fred Hampton, played by Daniel Kaluuya, and FBI informant Bill O'Neal, played by Stanfield, leading up to Hampton's death in a raid by the FBI. O'Neal, a teenager at the time, is reported to have poisoned 21-year-old Hampton to make him sleep through the deadly raid that killed him.

In a new interview with Level, Stanfield said that having to betray Kaluuya's real-life character, while playing O'Neal, felt too real during the making of the acclaimed film.

"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," Stanfield, 29, recalled. "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."

The intensity of the role impacted the Knives Out actor, making him rethink his approach with tackling future projects.

"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," Stanfield said.

He's since been seeing a "really cool therapist" that has helped him sort through his intense experience making the drama.

"It's great and perfect for me right now. Hopefully, it continues to be the case," Stanfield said. "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," he added.

Judas and the Black Messiah is playing in select theaters now and streaming on HBO Max.

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