How ‘Judas and the Black Messiah’ Started as a Conventional Biopic and Evolved into a Taut Thriller

Somehow, writer-director Shaka King, the Lucas Brothers, and Will Berson wrote one movie, “Judas and the Black Messiah.” Disparate perspectives on Fred Hampton meant that outcome was by no means pre-ordained, but after more than eight years and countless drafts they agreed to coalesce around a single narrative so compelling that a studio would be forced to greenlight the movie.Two powerful producers, Ryan Coogler (“Black Panther”) and Charles King (“Mudbound”), backed director Shaka King, who kept on track a complex story that kept changing, especially after two people joined the team who knew it better than anyone: Chairman Fred Hampton Jr.

and his mother, Deborah Johnson, now known as Akua Njeri.This collaboration yielded a film that debuted at Sundance 2021 to rave reviews, landed in theaters and HBO Max on February 12, and on March 15 earned six Oscars including Best Picture, Original Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor (Daniel Kaluuya and Lakeith Stanfield), Original Song,

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