2020 continues to be the worst.
Chadwick Boseman, the actor who was the embodiment of T’Challa in Black Panther and who also portrayed prominent Black historical figures such as Jackie Robinson, James Brown, and Thurgood Marshall, died on Friday at the age of 43.
A statement posted on Chadwick Boseman’s Instagram account revealed the actor had been diagnosed with Stage III colon cancer in 2016, which had progressed to Stage IV. He died in his home, with his wife and family by his side. “It is with immeasurable grief that we confirm the passing of Chadwick Boseman,” the statement said.
“A true fighter, Chadwick persevered through it all, and brought you many of the films you have come to love so much,” the statement said. “From Marshall to ‘Da 5 Bloods, August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and several more, all were filmed during and between countless surgeries and chemotherapy.”
In 2019 The Koalition spoke to Boseman who portrayed NYPD detective Andre Davis in 21 Bridges, a man determined to capture a pair of cop killers. Davis’ relentless pursuit also uncovers a massive conspiracy, and lines become blurred on whom he is pursuing – and who is after him.
Boseman who was also the Executive Producer was drawn to the role because “Andre is a complex figure. He has prepared his entire life to be a cop. Andre’s father, a policeman, was killed in the line of duty when Andre was just 13, so he has grown up with this unsettled murder of his dad. Over the years, Andre has become determined to not only avenge his father’s death but those of any cops he has served with.”
For the supporting role of Da Bloods’ venerated Squad Commander, director Spike Lee quickly turned to the talented actor. While Boseman immediately joined Da 5 Bloods for the chance to finally work with Lee.
Early this year, Boseman spoke about envisioning Norman as a Preacher and Prophet as much as a warrior. “You’ve got a Nat Turner in there,” Boseman said. “Tunis Campbell’s [in] there. You’ve got David Walker’s appeal. There’s this idea God is leading Norman to fight, but at the same time, he’s also a Patriot. He believes in American ideals — ‘If you ain’t doing right by my people, I have to use this moment to fight in different realms.'”
During the Vietnam War, Boseman’s own uncles fought overseas. “I could see the effect of the war — what they brought home or what they carried with them,” he said. Boseman felt the responsibility to honor the sacrifices of those who served, specifically African-Americans. “Part of the reason why I chose to do this movie is because it tells the story of the Vietnam War in a different way. Usually, when they do the movie version, we’re in the background or nonexistent, when in reality, these were the people doing the grunt work, the hard work.”
Norman appears only in flashbacks, but each interaction conveys the abiding and profound influence he had as a mentor. “That dynamic has been fun to play, being the person that they look up to,” Boseman said. “Especially because in reality, I look up to all of these actors. You see who they were when they were younger through my character, and that’s the extraordinarily unique conceit to Spike’s storytelling in this movie.”
Marvel Studios issued a statement on Twitter Friday night, saying the actor’s “legacy will live on forever.”
Our hearts are broken and our thoughts are with Chadwick Boseman’s family. Your legacy will live on forever. Rest In Peace. pic.twitter.com/DyibBLoBxz
— Marvel Studios (@MarvelStudios) August 29, 2020
“Our hearts are broken and our thoughts are with Chadwick Boseman’s family. Your legacy will live on forever. Rest In Peace.”
In 2018, Chadwick Boseman spoke about the impact of Black Panther and became emotional when discussing his relationship with two young fans who died of cancer before the movie was released.
“Throughout our filming, I was communicating with them, knowing they were both terminal. What they and their parents said to me was, they were trying to hold on ’til this movie comes,” he said during an EW SiriusXM Town Hall.
“To a certain degree it’s a humbling experience because you’re like, this can’t mean that much to them,” he said. “But seeing how the world has taken this on, I realize they anticipated something great. Thinking back now to when I was a kid, waiting for Christmas to come, waiting for my birthday to come, waiting for a toy I was gonna get a chance to experience, or a video game, I did live life waiting for those moments. It put me back in the mind of being a kid and feeling those two boys’ anticipation of this movie.”
“When I found out that they …” the actor continued, before stopping to collect himself. Eventually, he concluded, “Yeah. it means a lot.”