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Here's What The "Judas And The Black Messiah" Leads Look Like Vs. The People They Played IRL

*Stands up clapping for all of them*

For the uninitiated, Judas and the Black Messiah is a biographical film that tells the harrowing story of FBI informant William O'Neal (LaKeith Stanfield), who infiltrated the Illinois Black Panther Party to keep tabs on its charismatic leader, Chairman Fred Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya). And — FYI — it just dropped on HBO Max (and in theaters) today!

Daniel Kaluuya as Fred Hampton wearing a t-shirt, coat, and a black beret
Glen Wilson / Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

Note: Mild spoilers ahead!

Inspired by true events, Judas and the Black Messiah is directed by Shaka King, marking his studio feature film directorial debut.

LaKeith Stanfield as William O'Neal wearing a greed fedora and tan leather jacket with Shaka King giving him directions on set
Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

And, although the film JUST came out, it's already garnered a ton of praise from critics and fans alike. I mean, it has a 97% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes...NBD.

Screenshot of the Rotten Tomatoes site showing a 97% rating for the movie
Rotten Tomatoes / Warner Bros. / Via

Of course, one of the most interesting parts of any biographical film is the casting of its real-life characters. And let's just say they did an A+++ job with casting the leads of Judas and the Black Messiah. Let's take a look...

Daniel Kaluuya as Chairman Fred Hampton:

Daniel Kaluuya as Fred Hampton with facial hair and an archival photo of the real Fred Hampton
Warner Bros. / Bettmann / Getty

You'll know Daniel Kaluuya best for his roles as Chris Washington in Get Out (which garnered him an Oscar nom for Best Actor), W'Kabi in Black Panther, and Slim in Queen & Slim.

Fred Hampton was the chairman of the Chicago chapter of the Black Panther Party. He was also an active leader in the NAACP and led their Youth Council organizing the West Suburban Branch. Hampton was killed in his sleep by Chicago police officers during a raid on Dec. 3, 1969.

LaKeith Stanfield as William O'Neal:

LaKeith Stanfield as William O'Neal wearing a grey suit and archival footage of the real William O'Neal in the same grey suit
Warner Bros. / PBS / Via

You probably best know Stanfield for his roles as Lieutenant Elliot in Knives Out, Cassius "Cash" Green in Sorry to Bother You, and Andre Hayworth/Logan King in Get Out.

O'Neal was the chief of security for the Black Panther Party and had been Fred Hampton's bodyguard. He was also FBI agent Roy M. Mitchell's informant. O'Neal died on Jan. 15 1990 after being struck by a car. His death was ruled a suicide.

Dominique Fishback as Deborah Johnson:

Dominique Fishback with her hair in an Afro and Deborah Johnson in archival footage with an Afro
Warner Bros. / National Archives / Via

You may know Fishback from her roles as Darlene in The Deuce, Billie Rowan in Show Me a Hero, and Kenya in The Hate U Give.

Deborah Johnson, now known as Mother Akua, is an American writer, activist, and former member of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panthers. She's a survivor of the Dec. 4, 1969 assassination of Chairman Fred Hampton and was also his fiancé. She is the mother of Fred Hampton Jr., who is currently the chairman of the next-generation group Black Panther Party Cubs.

Martin Sheen as J. Edgar Hoover:

Martin Sheen in prosthetic makeup to make him look like J. Edgar Hoover with a larger nose, receding hairline and puffy face and an archival photo of Hoover
Warner Bros., Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Sheen is best known for his Golden Globe–winning role as President Josiah Bartlet in the TV series The West Wing, as well as his numerous roles in iconic films like Apocalypse Now, Badlands, and The Departed, among about a million others.

Hoover was the director of the FBI from 1924 until his death in 1972. Although he is credited with building up the agency, his legacy and practices have been the subject of many controversies. According to a recent article by the Chicago Sun Times, there were documents recovered in 1971 revealing that "Hoover wanted to 'disrupt, misdirect, and otherwise neutralize' African American organizations and prevent the rise of charismatic and powerful Black leaders."

Note: Although Jesse Plemons played real-life FBI agent Roy Mitchell, no photos of Mitchell could be found for comparison.

Judas and the Black Messiah is in theaters now and also available on HBO Max for the next 31 days.

Warner Bros.
Brooke Greenberg / BuzzFeed

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