- Chadwick Boseman died last month at age 43, shocking fans and collaborators in Hollywood who didn't know he had been diagnosed with colon cancer.
- The final onscreen role Boseman filmed was in Netflix's movie "Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom," costarring Viola Davis.
- In a New York Times interview, Davis recalled how Boseman always seemed "tired" on set.
- "I look [back] at his beautiful, unbelievable team that was meditating over him and massaging him, and I now realize everything they were trying to infuse in him to keep him going and working at his optimal level," Davis said. "And he received it.”
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Hollywood star Chadwick Boseman died on August 28, four years after he was diagnosed with colon cancer. Boseman never spoke publicly about his diagnosis, so his death at age 43 came as a shock to the world.
Now his final on-screen performance will debut in December. Last summer, Boseman filmed the Netflix original movie "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" with Oscar-winning actress Viola Davis. In the movie, Boseman plays a trumpeter named Levee, while Davis stars as real-life blues legend Ma Rainey.
The New York Times just published a first-look at the movie in which Davis said she's been reflecting on the time she spent working alongside Boseman. No one involved with the film's production knew Boseman had cancer at the time.
"I'm looking back at how tired he always seemed," she said. "I look at his beautiful, unbelievable team that was meditating over him and massaging him, and I now realize everything they were trying to infuse in him to keep him going and working at his optimal level. And he received it."
Davis also said Boseman was a collaborative colleague, despite his status as a Marvel star.
"He could completely discard whatever ego he had, whatever vanity he had, and welcome Levee in," Davis said.
No one outside of Boseman's close family knew about his cancer diagnosis. Following his death, people revisited many of Boseman's interviews and appearances, seeing added context in them now that the actor's colon cancer was public knowledge.
Huffington Post reporter Matt Jacobs shared a segment of his interview with Boseman in 2017, during which Jacobs noted how "exhausted" the actor appeared.
"You've been through the wringer," Jacobs said.
"Oh, you don't even know," Boseman replied, laughing. "You have no idea. One day I'll live to tell the story."
In another resurfaced interview, this time from 2018, Boseman became emotional when telling a story about two young children with cancer who had spoken to the actor about their excitement for "Black Panther."
Many celebrities have been reflecting on the legacy Boseman left behind. This week, "21 Bridges" costar Sienna Miller said she wasn't granted the dollar amount she had asked for, so Boseman "donated" part of his salary to her.
Now "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" will serve as the final time fans can watch Boseman perform on screen. In the New York Times preview, pop culture reporter Kyle Buchanan says Boseman delivers his "finest screen performance" in the movie, and says it's "practically assured of Oscar recognition."
Davis sees the role of Levee as an important addition to Boseman's legacy.
"Now we have the unfortunate knowledge that Chadwick succumbed to cancer at 43, but really, Levee represents so many Black men living in America," Davis said.
Read the full New York Times feature on "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" here.
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