Chadwick Boseman, who played searing force on Black American icons Jackie Robinson and James Brown before thrilling audiences around the world as the regal Black Panther in Marvel's blockbuster film franchise, died of cancer Friday. He's 43. Boseman ...
Chadwick Boseman, who played searing force on Black American icons Jackie Robinson and James Brown before thrilling audiences around the world as the regal Black Panther in Marvel's blockbuster film franchise, died of cancer Friday. He's 43.
Boseman died with his wife and family by his side at his home in the Los Angeles area. Four years ago Boseman had been diagnosed with colon cancer, his family said in a statement.
“A true fighter, Chadwick persevered through it all, and brought you many of the films you have come to love so much,” his family 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. It was the honor of his career to bring King T’Challa to life in Black Panther."
Boseman had not publicly spoken about his illness. He is survived by his wife and parent and, Fioravante said, had no children.
Boseman, born in South Carolina, graduated from Howard University and performed minor television roles until his first star turn in 2013. His striking depiction of Robinson's stoic baseball star opposite Harrison Ford in 2013′s "42" gained attention in Hollywood and made him a star.
He wowed viewers a year later as Brown in the "Get On Up" biopic.
Boseman died on a day on which Major League Baseball celebrated Jackie Robinson's day. "His transcendent success in '42' will stand the test of time and serve as a strong platform to tell viewers Jackie's tale for decades to come," the league wrote in a tweet.
Expressions of shock and despair poured in late Friday from fellow actors, athletes, musicians, Hollywood titans, fans and politicians. Viola Davis, who acted alongside Boseman in “Get On Up” and an upcoming August Wilson adaptation, tweeted: “Chadwick.....no words to express my devastation of losing you. Your talent, your spirit, your heart, your authenticity.”
The actor and director Jordan Peele said on Twitter "This is a crippling blow."
Disney CEO Bob Iger called Boseman "an exceptional talent, and one of the gentlest and most gifting souls I've ever met. He brought tremendous strength, integrity and depth to his pioneering Black Panther position.'
“Captain America” actor Chris Evans called Boseman “a true original. He was a deeply committed and constantly curious artist. He had so much amazing work still left to create.”
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden tweeted that Boseman "inspired and taught generations that they can be everything they want — even super heroes."
His character T'Challa was first introduced to Marvel's blockbuster movies in 2016's "Captain America : Civil War," and his "Wakanda Forever" greetings reverberated across the world two years ago after the release of "Black Panther."
The film's vision of Afrofuturism and Wakanda's technologically advanced culture resonated with viewers, some of whom wore African clothing to shows, and helped propel "Black Panther" to a global box office of more than $1.3 billion. It is the only Marvel Studios film to earn an Oscar nomination for best picture.
Boseman said he connected more easily with the film's antagonist, played by Michael B. Jordan, who had been cut off from his ancestral roots: "I was born with some Killmonger in me, and during my studies I learned to T'Challa," he said while promoting the film.
“It's the place where you start. All African Americans, unless they have some direct connection, have been severed from that past. There’s things that cannot be tracked,” he continued. “You were a product, sold. So it’s very difficult as an African American to connect at some points directly to Africa. I have made that part of my search in my life. So those things were already there when I got into the role.”
The character was last seen standing silently dressed in a black suit at Tony Stark’s funeral in last year’s “Avengers: Endgame.” A “Black Panther” sequel had been announced, and was one of the studio's most anticipated upcoming films.
Even at the outset of his Hollywood career, Boseman was clear-eyed about — and even skeptical of — the industry in which he would become an international star.
“You don’t have the same exact experience as a Black actor as you do as a white actor. You don’t have the same opportunities. That’s evident and true,” he told AP while promoting “42.” “The best way to put it is: How often do you see a movie about a black hero who has a love story ... he has a spirituality. He has an intellect. It’s weird to say it, but it doesn’t happen that often.”
Besides Robinson and Brown, Boseman also depicted the future U.S. In 2017's "Marshall," Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall humanized the larger-than - life historical figures with the same reserved integrity — disrupted by flashes of sparkling humor — that he would later add to T'Challa.
He took on his first production job in last year's action thriller "21 Bridges," in which he also starred, and was last seen on-screen as leader of a group of Black soldiers in the Vietnam War in Spike Lee 's film "Da 5 Bloods."
Boseman ended one last series, in an adaptation of "Ma Rainey's Black Heart" by August Wilson. Last summer, the Netflix film finished filming.
Boseman 's moment has taken some time to come. He first entered theatre, performing and writing plays at Howard as an undergraduate. He first visited Africa with director and theater professor Mike Malone during the college, working in Ghana to maintain and celebrate rituals with performances on a proscenium stage. Later on he called the trip "one of my life's most important learning experiences."
Boseman played roles on TV shows such as "Lincoln Heights" by ABC Family and "Persons Unknown" by NBC, but before "42" he only appeared in one movie, 2008's "The Express" football drama.
Asked about the legends and icons of his own youth, Boseman cited Black political figures and musicians: Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., Bob Marley, Public Enemy, A Tribe Called Quest and Prince. In his public appearances and interviews, he was intensely private and always guarded, making it clear that he recognized the importance of his work and its effect on the wider community.
"Black Panther" won best ensemble, electrifying the room, at the 2019 Screen Actors Guild Ceremony. Chadwick Boseman walked on to the stage before an auditorium full of actors. He quoted Nina Simone as saying, "To be young, talented and black," putting the moment in perspective.
“We know what it’s like to be told there isn’t a screen for you to be featured on, a stage for you to be featured on. ... We know what’s like to be beneath and not above. And that is what we went to work with every day,” said Boseman. “We knew that we could create a world that exemplified a world we wanted to see. We knew that we had something to give.”