‘Atlanta’: LaKeith Stanfield Didn’t Know Donald Glover Was Wearing Whiteface and Prosthetics to Play Teddy Perkins

Donald Glover has been called a genius for the unique ways he approaches his craft. As Grammy-winning rapper Childish Gambino, Glover has redefined what hip hop can potentially be. As an actor, Glover showed how he can handle a comedic role on Community just as easily as he can a more serious character on Atlanta.

Prolific actor LaKeith Stanfield, who stars in Atlanta as the goofy character Darius, has commented in the past about Glover’s work ethic. But there’s one instance in particular that stands out to him: the season 2 Atlanta episode titled “Teddy Perkins.”

Childish Gambino/Donald Glover attends Rihanna's 4th Annual Diamond Ball at Cipriani Wall Street
Childish Gambino/Donald Glover attends Rihanna’s 4th Annual Diamond Ball at Cipriani Wall Street | ANGELA WEISS/AFP/Getty Images

The ‘Teddy Perkins’ episode of ‘Atlanta’ stands out

In “Teddy Perkins,” Darius learns about a free piano that a famous singer was selling. What seemingly starts out as another funny story involving Darius soon devolves into a Get Out-esque scenario — interestingly enough, a movie that Stanfield appeared in.

The person selling the piano is a famous retired singer named Teddy Perkins. Perkins is soft-spoken with pale white skin and a facial bone structure that looks stiff from years of plastic surgery and enhancements.

For many people, the most shocking part of the episode wasn’t even during the episode. It was afterward when they learn that Perkins was played by Glover wearing whiteface and plenty of face prosthetics.

Donald Glover
Donald Glover | Gregg DeGuire/FilmMagic/Getty Images

Donald Glover stayed in character the whole time he was on set

In a November 2020 interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Stanfield admitted that he didn’t even know it was Glover underneath all the makeup and prosthetics. Glover wanted to keep it all a secret and stayed in character on set the whole day.

Stanfield recalled striking up a conversation with “Teddy Perkins” between takes. “I was like, ‘Wow, this is a very interesting fellow,’” Stanfield said. “I wanted to know more about [the actor], so I started asking him questions. And Donald had a whole history prepared. He was saying he’s been acting for a long time. And I was like, ‘That’s funny, because this is a very small business… I would not miss your face.'”

Stanfield spoke about being kept in the dark about Perkins’ real identity in a 2018 interview with Entertainment Weekly. “I felt very creeped out the whole day because I didn’t know what was going on; no one told me anything about what was going on,” he said.

He also said that it was hard to see that it was all a stunt because Glover stayed in character the whole time. “They called ‘cut’ and it was Teddy, and when I saw him get makeup done, it was Teddy,” Stanfield said. “I didn’t see any prosthetics, so I didn’t know.”

LaKeith Stanfield attends BuzzFeed's "AM To DM" on February 12, 2020 in New York City | Dominik Bindl/Getty Images
LaKeith Stanfield attends BuzzFeed’s “AM To DM” on February 12, 2020 in New York City | Dominik Bindl/Getty Images

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LaKeith Stanfield didn’t know Donald Glover was playing Teddy Perkins

Stanfield was confused and intrigued by the actor playing Teddy Perkins, and felt that there was something that he wasn’t telling him. “So I started asking around on the set, ‘Who the fuck is this guy?’” Stanfield remembered.

Another actor on the show let the cat out of the bag that it was Glover who was playing Teddy Perkins, and Stanfield was upset he ruined the surprise for himself.

“Someone finally just spilled the beans, which now I’m kind of mad about, because I wish the illusion would’ve gone on a little longer.”