What was the process of building chemistry with Dominique Fishback, Daniel?
DK: We just listened to Dominique a lot. [laughs] She has incredible ideas. I mean, she wrote this poem. And we just talked a lot, personally, because she couldn’t do the rehearsals. So every time I had a rehearsal, I would call her up and say, “Yo, that’s what we did.” So we just kept her posted. Because this arc, in the narrative, is so important because it is a window into the humanity of these people. And so we stayed connected and stayed to learn.
When did you first hear it? On the set or before?
DK: She waited until I was on set, so that would work. Because I’m supposed to hear it for the first time. But Shaka took it and was like, Yeah. Just say this poem.
The biggest scene is the FBI raid ending the movie. President Fred Jr. and Mother Akua (formerly Deborah Johnson) were on set. What was the mood?
DK: Not good. I felt very depressed. It was a very disturbing thing to be a part of. And my mind wasn’t in the great outdoors when we were doing this scene. But you know, to tell the truth you have to tell the whole truth.
CFJ: Looking at it critically, I remember our struggles to ensure that the brutal realities are reflected. Some of these were issues that people might not like to talk about. James Glover Davis, a black policeman, had his role [in the assassination]. I remember after I shot this scene, I walked back to the hotel and said to the individual who played James Gloves Davis, “You have to take a step back. You’re a little too close. [laughs] I can’t get on the elevator with you. ”
But it was intense. I remember Dominique Fishback, after the scene, she commented that my eyes were a little teary. I said – “It’s from allergies.” [laughs] We still joke about it today. But the stage is something that needs to be shown as much as possible so that we can reflect on the efforts the government has, wants and has made to end our struggle for self-determination.
“Judas and the Black Messiah” will be available in theaters and on HBO Max on February 12. To read Odie Henderson’s review of the film, Click here.