The Get Out star has become a bonafide star and yet he sticks to his independent cinema guns–proving along the way his penchant for authentic roles.
It’s difficult to maintain one’s sense of artistic integrity. The burning desire to “make it” almost all but ensures that one is pushed into the direction of shtick humor, brainless dialogue, and crass sexuality. Few remain in the echelon of actors that respect themselves enough to seldom dive into the world of multi-million dollar deals. After all, how could one say no to a lifelong livelihood?
Thankfully a great bevy of actors do just that, including breakout star Lakeith Stanfield. From his candid turn in Short Term 12 to his refreshing role in Get Out, Stanfield has shown his penchant for remaining in the sweet spot of integrity and critical and commercial praise. Stanfield has seemingly continued that career trajectory with his recent turn in the impressive Crown Heights. Whether it is the false incarceration or the brutal treatment received, the story of Crown Heights is one that desperately deserves to be told–and one that Stanfield wholeheartedly pours his heart into. The Knockturnal‘s OJ Williams had the opportunity to sit down with the breakout star to discuss his time working on the show, how he developed his character and dealing with the emotions associated with it all. Check out what Stanfield had to say below:
This movie took me on an emotional rollercoaster from the start to finish. What was it like filming for you? I’m sure it was that ten times more.
Lakeith Stanfield: Yeah, it was difficult, man. It was a deep one to dive into. Somewhere embedded in my subconscious is the cell door that acted as my trailer door.
Lakeith: I just had a dream last night that I was being sort of thrown into a cell again. I keep having these little weird recurring dreams. I thought it was done, and I actually think doing press kind of–
Lakeith: Yeah. Reawakened the beast a little bit. It was a trying experience. It was one of the most difficult things I’d ever have to dive into but also one of the most rewarding. Having seen it come out and having hung around his family, I was just brought to very high levels of joy having done that.
Because you got to meet the real life version of your character, was it an added pressure to make sure you do this role justice?
Lakeith: No. I think I wanted to do a great job in portraying it either way. I think I couldn’t pay attention to how he might perceive what I was doing or I wouldn’t have been able to do it. You know what I mean?
Lakeith: I wouldn’t have been able to do it correctly if I was constantly thinking about how one might react. So I just kind of blacked out and just went into it.
Your roles have been so eclectic. What attracts you to a part? Your whole career has been very different from role to role. How do you pick a part?
Lakeith: I don’t know. It’s almost as if there is–in people’s minds–a smorgasbord of roles.
Lakeith: Then it’s like, “Okay, let me get that one. No, no, no, I don’t want that.” It’s definitely not like that. It’s definitely not like that, especially for me. A lot of things that have come my way have been things that I know that I don’t want to be a part of, so I guess that’s been a way for me to sort of know what I don’t want to do rather than what I want to do. Every now and then something will come across and it will reveal itself to me, I’ll go, “Oh, that’s what I want to do,” and I didn’t even know the role existed. I’m just like, “Oh, okay. Here is it. I have to do this.” That’s kind of more the journey for me rather than picking it. I guess the roles kind of pick me.
Obviously, with the recent press, this film is even more relevant in what’s going on today. Speak to why this is important for people to see the film.
Lakeith: I think it’s important for them if it speaks to them. But I think it can speak to many different kinds of people who are going through a journey attempting to just get through, and survive, and live. If you feel like circumstances are surrounding you that you have no control over that you would like to see better, this is the kind of film for you. Also, if you want to feel something, if you want to feel a real heartfelt story and be a part of a conversation, then Crown Heights is for you.
Talk about working with the director, and building your character, and what you guys talked about.
Lakeith: Yeah. Young Ruskin, man, he’s a soldier. I’m really happy that he had the guts to tell this story and more happy that he had the guts to have me be the center of it. I believed in him, and I still do. I believe in his vision, and I think that he’s taken this with real heart and I appreciate that. I didn’t once feel like he was making a movie for movie sake but that he wanted to tell a genuine story, and so I was happy about that. I think people can see that watching this story. I hope so.
Be sure to check out Crown Heights once it hits theaters August 18.