Amid the release of Netflix’s The Harder They Fall, actor LaKeith Stanfield is opening up about the state of his mental health while filming the Black Western.
Stanfield portrayed Cherokee Bill in the movie, a real-life Black cowboy who was convicted of murder and hanged to his death in 1896 at the age of 20, Men’s Health reports.
But Stanfield was already going through his own personal struggles walking onto the set and taking on the pain and grit of his character proved to be a trying experience for the 30-year-old method actor. He opened up about what he was battling internally while working on the film in a heartfelt Instagram post.
“The worst part of filming this movie was that I was in a pretty bad space mentally,” Stanfield shared in a lengthy caption. “I couldn’t see what life had in store to teach me about myself that I needed to know.”
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He credited the horses on set, one of which he nicknamed “Magnolia,” for their “strength and beautiful patience” as they demanded he ride with confidence and lose the fear he was battling inside.
“They weren’t shy in making me be great. One day “magnolia” (that wasn’t the horses name but i refused to not call him that in my head) bucked me off, and in that moment I heard him loud and clearly. BE STRONG OR GET OFF,” Stanfield recalled.
He went on to admit to having drinking problems while filming and only getting sober in the last six months.
“Everyday on set i was experiencing crippling anxiety and suffering silently inside,” he said. “I would drink every night after work and try to laugh off my pain.”
He thanked the real Cherokee Bill for pushing him to keep “fighting” to not only perform but to also find his inner peace in life.
“Here’s to almost 6 months sober. Here’s to the fact that the bigger the goal God has for them, the taller they stand and, The Harder They Fall,” he wrote in conclusion.
Outside of the praise Stanfield receives for his performances in hit films like Get Out, Judas and the Black Messiah, and Sorry to Bother You, the San Bernadino native has dealt with public controversies due to his behavior on social media.
Earlier this year, Stanfield had to denounce hate speech after he was seen inside of a room on Clubhouse that supported Louis Farrakhan and anti-semitic sentiments, The Daily Beast reports. It came a few months after he alarmed his fans with a series of cryptic tweets about harming himself.
Now it looks like Stanfield’s latest film release might’ve helped save his life.