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Ahead of its U.S. theatrical release tomorrow, four of the cast and crew of the already critically-acclaimed Judas and the Black Messiah took part in a short Q&A session this week.
And director Shaka King, along with actors Daniel Kaluuya, Lakeith Stanfield and Dominique Fishback, certainly showed why their enthusiasm for the history of the Black Panther Party shone through this biopic.
Anyone who thought method acting might also be confined to a bygone era will be left to think again, as Kaluuya told of his unwavering dedication to the part of Fred Hampton – the tragic Chairman of the Black Panthers in the late 60s – a somewhat forgotten political figure at the centre of the story.
Surely one of the hardest workers in the business, Kaluuya was determined to put Hampton back on the historical map: “The lack of awareness didn’t take away from the importance of his works and his deeds.” The former Skins star asked King for the Black Panther reading list, consumed the literature voraciously and also visited Hampton’s old haunts in Chicago (the setting for the movie). All this because, in Kaluuya’s words “in order to be a fully-fledged Panther, you need to do six weeks of political education.”
Likewise, King put his all into the project as it was “too great an opportunity to let pass me by.” The opportunity in question was put forward to him back in 2016 by Kenny and Keith Lucas, who co-wrote the original story with King and Will Berson. Once the screenplay was done and dusted, they hotfooted it to Hampton’s childhood home to have a meeting with Fred Hampton Jr., no less, at the kitchen table. Whether this was over breakfast or dinner wasn’t revealed.
It’s a safe bet that Hampton’s short life won’t suffer from lack of awareness for much longer. Look out for the forthcoming review of Judas and the Black Messiah right here at Roobla.
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