“I wanted him to be the kind of guy who was able to make a decision but still show some emotional aspects or some vulnerability,” he explained in a recent phone interview, “but I didn’t want him to be too much — too sappy and all that.”
“Oftentimes the black guy in these kinds of movies is too ‘something.’ He’s too this. He’s too that,” he continued. “So I wanted to create a balance in the romance and show that black men can be multifaceted.”
LaKeith Stanfield as Michael Block in “The Photograph.” CONTRIBUTED BY EMILY ARAGONES/UNIVERSAL PICTURES
And Michael is. In addition to being a star journalist, he is also a brother, brother-in-law, uncle, friend and mentor. Co-stars Lil Rel Howery, Teyonah Parris (“Survivor’s Remorse”), Rob Morgan (“Just Mercy”) and Kelvin Harrison Jr. (“Luce”) help to show those sides of him.
It’s Stanfield’s chemistry with Rae’s Mae that centers the film. When asked whether he and Rae worked to establish their romantic chemistry for the film, Stanfield humorously objected to the obvious question.
“I always wonder what people think the answer to that question is going to be like: ‘No, I hated it. It sucked. We didn’t have no kind [of chemistry],’” he said, with a laugh. “I mean I just don’t understand. The chemistry, yeah, we make it work. It was easy to do because I already liked her. It was just cool. We been vibing for a minute. So, yeah, it was just easy breezy.”
LaKeith Stanfield (left) and Issa Rae in “The Photograph,” written and directed by Stella Meghie. CONTRIBUTED BY UNIVERSAL PICTURES
Circling back to the film’s romantic theme, Stanfield acknowledged the difficulties men and women have finding love. “I think it’s kind of hard to be courageous and give in to love and be vulnerable to someone else,” he said. “It seems like a universal thing that we all go through at some point.”
Like with Darius and his many other roles, Stanfield sprinkles something extra special on all his performances, showing nuances that escape others. With “The Photograph,” Will Packer is eager for audiences to see the magic Stanfield creates.
"LaKeith's performance is revelatory," Packer shared with the AJC. "His range is incredible. He's one of the most talented artists I've ever worked with. I can't wait for audiences to see this LaKeith."