Warner Brothers Pictures hosted a virtual panel hosted by CNN’s Laura Coates with MACRO’s Charles King, Shaka King, Ryan Coogler and Chairman Fred Hampton, Jr. King shared that the reason MACRO got involved with this project is because, “…Ryan, Shaka and I are a coalition of artists and that a MACRO is all about supporting these compelling stories about our community…Shaka invited us on the journey with him.” He went on to say, “…my father was a servant of the people. He was a Black Panther in mind body and soul. He paid the ultimate price and he was clear that there was a price to pay for peace.”
Being the son of an activist or civil rights icon can’t possibly be easy, but when your father is murdered, the complexities of that are compounded. How did Fred Hampton, Jr. respond when Hollywood came calling? “It wasn’t an easy conversation…I had to check people’s community credit cards…a legacy is more important than YOUR life.”
What about Daniel Kaluuya in the lead role? He’s a fantastic actor with range that has been exhibited in everything from ‘Get Out’ to ‘Black Panther’ to ‘Queen & Slim.’ But, as of late, there has been major backlash and open-ended conversations generated around Black British actors taking on roles of African-American icons. We’ve seen it happen with David Oyelowo (Selam) and double Academy Award nominee Cynthia Erivo (Harriet). So, what does Director Shaka King say about it? “Daniel had a gravitas that I felt was right for Fred Hampton…we have known each other since 2013 and expressed a desire to work with each other.” He explained “…I’m aware of the debate of British actors playing Americans. I was born in America, my family is Caribbean and I have a South African name. In a lot of ways kidnapped Africans ended up around the world, so we have a lot more in common than we think.” On the subject of casting more women in male centered heavy film such as this one, “If there is anything I wish we had done a better job of was having more roles for women. We had two (Dominique Fishback and Dominique Thorne) who did incredible work.
We are living during extraordinary times with a COVID-19 and the Black Lives Matter movements globally, so when I heard the quote in the trailer, “…You can murder a freedom fighter, but you can’t murder freedom, ” I wondered how it could pertain to a different fight for freedom with the movement. Director Ryan Coogler and Chairman Fred Hampton, Jr had answer for me. Coogler stated, “…that quote is powerful because it’s absolutely true. Fred Hampton spoke universal truths. A truth that you didn’t recognize. How is it that they murdered this man at 21 years of age and use misinformation afterwards. These ideas are still ever present. Those systems are still here. His son is still here speaking those universal truths.” Chariman Fred added, “…the Black Panther movement in the 60’s was fighting for power in our lives. It’s the same dynamics, but the names have changed. People’s political pores are still being opened. The will of the people is greater than man’s technology.”
Wanna know who The Lucas Brothers and William O’Neal are and what their role is within this story? Well, you’re gonna have to wait for Judas and The Black Messiah to drop. In the meantime…here’s a little appetizer trailer for you