In the new film Knives Out, LaKeith Stanfield plays Lieutenant Elliott, a local lawman helping Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) find Harlan Thrombey’s (Christopher Plummer) killer.
The dark comedy-thriller film written, produced and directed by Rian Johnson, is described as a modern take on the murder mystery genre, and film follows a greedy and entitled White family. Their gathering goes horribly wrong after the family patriarch is found murdered. Enter the brilliant celebrity detective Benoit Blanc to uncover the killer.
When speaking to ESSENCE, Stanfield noted that he was one of one on set when it came to diversity—an important moment not lost on him.
“I was the only Black dude on set and that’s a new space for me to occupy and that comes with its own thing,” Stanfield said, “but I was able to sprinkle a little pepper in that situation you know, represent my people, [and] add a little spice to it.”
Despite the lack of diversity, Stanfield said he was drawn to the film because “the script was so well executed. It presents all these wild characters and different possibilities for the crime, and then it keeps throwing you for a loop.”
Love is an important thing in my life. I’m constantly building and forging relationships.
Stanfield, not shy about moving up the Hollywood ladder, viewed the opportunity to work with veterans in the industry enthusiastically too.
“I saw the cast list and I thought about how I might be able to learn from all these people that will be on this set. A lot of these people have been in the business for so long,” he explained. “It’s good to sink my teeth into some of their methods and learn how they craft their characters.”
The warmth and complexity that Stanfield brings to his work as an actor is what he’ll bring to a new music project, adding that he’ll drop an EP before 2020 and later a full length album. The actor continued that his music focuses on love.
Explaining further, he said, “The good, bad and in the in-between. You know how love can be. It’s trial and error. In love, you fall and you get back up. I’m looking back to my past. I’m just trying to do better; be better [and] grow.”
Stanfield said his love obsession has made him a target amongst his friends, family and peers, who tease him. Still, he’s learned a lot from love, he said.
“In love, honesty is the key to yourself and everyone involved. Be able to look yourself in the mirror and see the raw things and start to make changes. That’s all you can do, you know? You ain’t gonna control nobody and nobody gonna control you,” he explained. “You have to figure out a way to play. “
An emotional Stanfield added, “That’s why I love making movies like The Photograph, it gives me another opportunity to dive into looking at love and how it affects me, and how my love affects other people and how love is intertwined,” he said of his forthcoming film with Issa Rae, out on Valentine’s Day next year. “Love seems to be a universal thing.”