LaKeith Stanfield Had Concerns ‘The Book of Clarence’ Might Be Controversial but Felt ‘Inspired’ After Filming

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Prior to signing on for Jeymes Samuel’s biblical narrative “The Book of Clarence,” LaKeith Stanfield said he was initially unsure whether the film would be a “controversial” movie to star in. However, the actor said that by the end of filming, his faith was strengthened and he felt “inspired” to never question unique opportunities no matter how contentious they may appear.

It should be no surprise that “The Book of Clarence” deals greatly with religion and spirituality, as it’s set in A.D. 33 Jerusalem and features arguably the most notable figure in the Bible, Jesus Christ. The film joins an old genre that Hollywood has seemingly retired, as far as live-action adaptations go — at least since Garth Davis’ “Mary Magdalene” (2018). Historically, audiences have always been split on their feelings about Hollywood cinematically producing stories from the Bible, and it was a sentiment even Stanfield felt in the beginning.

“Spirituality is at the very heart of what my experience was here. I mean, I started out [with] many questions, not knowing if I was stepping into something that could be controversial, not knowing if it was necessarily the right move,” Stanfield told TheWrap during a press junket interview for the “The Book of Clarence.” But, by the end of it, I knew. Literally, what Clarence says [in the film], ‘Knowledge is stronger than belief.’ I left this movie feeling inspired, truly inspired. To know and not to question and believe. My faith was completely strengthened, and I had to call on higher powers to get through because there were some moments that [were] really hard. But, you know you just pick up the blocks, continue to push forward, have faith, and God will see you through.”

"The Book of Clarence"
“The Book of Clarence” (CREDIT: Sony)

Some of those hard moments included showing up for lots of shoot days as Stanfield pulled double duty by starring as two characters, Clarence and his twin brother Thomas. Playing against himself was a first for the Oscar-nominated actor, who said there was even a day he forgot he had to come to set to play the supporting role.

“It was fun. It was a unique challenge,” Stanfield said. “There was this one day because I was working every day, and there was this one day I came to Jeymes and was like, ‘Yeah, man. Good luck tomorrow, you’re going to have a good day. I got the day off.’ I’m so excited. He was like, ‘What you mean? Thomas is playing tomorrow, you’re still working.”

He continued: “It was a big workload, but it was beautiful to be able to transition into these different characters and get the opportunity to act. It’s what I love to do. Give me 30 characters and I’ll be completely content.”

Not only is this Stanfield’s second time working with Samuel, it’s also his second time saddling up with his costar RJ Cyler, who played Jim Beckworth in Samuel’s western “The Harder They Fall.” Cyler comes in as Clarence’s bestie and main supporter Elijah. From the beginning to the end of filming “The Book of Clarence,” Cyler said the movie was a spiritual “battle.”

LaKeith Stanfield and RJ Cyler in "The Book of Clarence" (Sony)
LaKeith Stanfield and RJ Cyler in “The Book of Clarence” (Sony)

“When it came to booking this film, from health issues to other things. But, me and God always stayed right here. This was just a really big test of my faith and my strength with our relationship,” Cyler said. “It really evolved my spiritual life filming it. I think [Samuel] created an atmosphere to where I could feel safe with my boys to where they could be something that I felt good in. Right now, as a spiritual man that I am, I am way stronger just after the filming process because, whew boy.”

The long history of Bible films being condemned by some was a topic Samuel addressed recently during an interview with “The Breakfast Club.”

“Blasphemy! The teaser, the 60-second teaser, we dropped a 60-second teaser, and everyone says, ‘Blasphemy!’….I knew people would be saying that when they look at the teaser. We released a longer trailer it was less [backlash]. But, now when you say ‘blasphemy,’ you have to stand on it,” Samuel said, while citing Bible scripture 24:5, which reads, “For many shall come in my name, saying I am Christ; and shall deceive many.”

Samuel continued: “I want to know why you’re saying ‘blaspehmy.’ Is it because you’re seeing people of color? And if I’m speaking to a person of color, I’m going to ask a deep question. When you look at the trailer for — cause you haven’t seen the movie — when you look at the trailer for ‘The Book of Clarence,’ and you’re yelling ‘blasphemy,’ one: do you actually read the book you profess to know so much about? Two, and this is for all the Black people that are yelling ‘blasphemy,’ are you saying blasphemy because you see yourself in that place and time?”

“The Book of Clarence” follows the journey of Clarence, a young man living in A.D. 33 Jerusalem who lacks faith but who seeks to find purpose in life. Down on his luck and struggling to pay a debt he owes, he opts to take advantage of the growing fame around a rising messiah named Jesus by misleading his community into believing he is the New Messiah in order earn a profit.

The film was written, directed and produced by Samuel and stars LaKeith Stanfield, RJ Cyler, Anna Diop, Omar Sy, David Oyelowo, Teyana Taylor, Babs Olusanmokun, James McAvoy and Benedict Cumberbatch. Also serving as producers “The Book of Clarence” are Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter, James Lassiter and Tendo Nagenda. “The Book of Clarence” premieres in theaters on Friday.

The post LaKeith Stanfield Had Concerns ‘The Book of Clarence’ Might Be Controversial but Felt ‘Inspired’ After Filming appeared first on TheWrap.