Trailer for the highly anticipated Fred Hampton biopic Judas and the Black Messiah was released this morning, to much excitement.The heroic life of Fred Hampton, the Black Panther activist who was assassinated by the FBI at just 21 years old, is getting the silver screen treatment. On Thursday, Warner Bros. dropped the trailer for Judas and the Black Messiah, a new drama based on Hampton’s revolutionary rise in the late 1960s—and his tragic downfall after being betrayed by informant William O’Neal.
Daniel Kaluuya stars as Hampton and, per the trailer, delivers a staggeringly kinetic performance. The trailer is largely comprised of snippets of Kaluuya as Hampton delivering rousing speeches at rallies and protests. “You can murder a revolutionary, but you can’t murder a revolution!” he shouts in one scene, a reference to the young activist’s most memorable rhetoric. All the while, he’s being watched by O’Neal, played with anxious energy by LaKeith Stanfield. Jesse Plemons plays Roy Mitchell, the FBI agent who threatened O’Neal and got him to turn on the Black Panthers. Dominique Fishback also stars as Deborah Johnson, a fellow Black Panther and Hampton’s fiancée.
“I play a character that’s a part of those, that body, that government arm which reached down and picked up a kid who didn’t know what he was doing and made him kill his brother,” Stanfield said of his character,” Stanfield said an interview with NowThis Entertainment.
“I really respect African American people,” Kaluuya responded in a later interview with GQ. “I just want to tell Black stories…. I resent that I have to prove that I’m Black.” The Oscar-nominated actor has since played American characters in films like Widows and Queen & Slim. Judas and the Black Messiah is his first starring turn in a major biopic.
“It was really tough for me to do that and I went through a whole bunch of emotional changes and realized that, at the end of the day, hopefully, people will connect to a larger idea and the larger love given by Fred Hampton,” he added.
“Now a comrade in arms in the Black Panther Party, O’Neal lives in fear that his treachery will be discovered even as he rises in the ranks. But as Hampton’s fiery message draws him in, O’Neal cannot escape the deadly trajectory of his ultimate betrayal.”
Also starring are Ashton Sanders, Lil Rel Howery, Jesse Plemons, and Martin Sheen. The movie was originally set for an August 21 release though Warner Bros. has reshuffled their release schedule due to the coronavirus pandemic. The trailer doesn’t share a new date but assures viewers they can see Judas and The Black Messiah ‘Only in theatres’ sometime in 2021.