Variety Screening Series
“Judas and the Black Messiah” has been nominated for six Academy Awards and actor Daniel Kaluuya has already won Golden Globe and SAG Awards for his portrayal of Black Panther Chairman Fred Hampton…
“Judas and the Black Messiah” has been nominated for six Academy Awards and actor Daniel Kaluuya has already won Golden Globe and SAG Awards for his portrayal of Black Panther Chairman Fred Hampton. Kaluuya describes the role as a tall order.
“It was like a big mountain,” Kaluuya said. “When you get to the bottom of the mountain and go, ‘whew, this is big. It’s even bigger than I thought it was from a distance.’ And so drop by drop a river is formed. You just got to keep plugging away.”
In the Variety Streaming Room presented by the All-New Toyota Mirai, deputy awards and features editor Jenelle Riley spoke with the cast and crew of “Judas and the Black Messiah” about the pressure of portraying real-life historical figures as well as visiting Hampton’s real-life relatives in Chicago. Joining the conversation were director, co-writer and producer Shaka King, producer Charles D. King and actors Kaluuya, LaKeith Stanfield and Dominique Fishback.
Charles D. King said that it was important to collaborate with Fred Hampton’s family while working on this film. While there’s plenty of information about the historical figure, he said much of what may be out in the public domain is actually inaccurate.
“So many of the newspaper clippings and articles that were written, were written from the FBI planting stories and things like that,” King said. “It was imperative for us to at least get their blessing, to at least show them their respects.”
The crew spent a year going back and forth to Chicago to spend time with the family and becoming comfortable with them, which King described as a long and exhaustive process.
“To have them there as cultural experts on those nuance and those elements, to be able to be there for us as a sounding board was truly like icing on the cake,” King said. “It was a blessing for us to be able to have them there and their participation.”