A few days after actor Chadwick Boseman died of colon cancer, Black Panther director Ryan Coogler shared a touching written tribute to the late actor.
Boseman, who starred in Black Panther as King T’Challa, died Friday at the age of 43. The actor was diagnosed with colon cancer four years ago and had not spoken publicly about his diagnosis.
Boseman was also known for playing roles of American icons like Jackie Robinson and James Brown.
Shared by the Hollywood Reporter on Sunday, Coogler’s written tribute reminisces about the making of the Marvel film and meeting Boseman for the first time.
“The first time I saw Chad’s performance as T’Challa, it was in an unfinished cut of Captain America: Civil War. I was deciding whether or not directing Black Panther was the right choice for me,” Coogler wrote. “I’ll never forget, sitting in an editorial suite on the Disney Lot and watching his scenes. His first with Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow, then, with the South African cinema titan, John Kani as T’Challa’s father, King T’Chaka. It was at that moment I knew I wanted to make this movie.”
Coogler wrote that he first met Boseman in 2016 after he agreed to direct Black Panther. The two discussed the movie and their vision for the role of T’Challa.
“I finally met Chad in person in early 2016, once I signed onto the film. He snuck past journalists that were congregated for a press junket I was doing for CREED, and met with me in the green room. We talked about our lives, my time playing football in college, and his time at Howard studying to be a director, about our collective vision for T’Challa and Wakanda,” Coogler wrote. “We spoke about the irony of how his former Howard classmate Ta-Nehisi Coates was writing T’Challa’s current arc with Marvel Comics. And how Chad knew Howard student Prince Jones, who’s murder by a police officer inspired Coates’ memoir Between The World and Me.
“I noticed then that Chad was an anomaly. He was calm. Assured. Constantly studying. But also kind, comforting, had the warmest laugh in the world, and eyes that seen much beyond his years, but could still sparkle like a child seeing something for the first time.
“That was the first of many conversations. He was a special person,” Coogler continued. “We would often speak about heritage and what it means to be African. When preparing for the film, he would ponder every decision, every choice, not just for how it would reflect on himself, but how those choices could reverberate. ’They not ready for this, what we are doing…' ‘This is Star Wars, this is Lord of the Rings, but for us… and bigger!’ He would say this to me while we were struggling to finish a dramatic scene, stretching into double overtime. Or while he was covered in body paint, doing his own stunts. Or crashing into frigid water, and foam landing pads. I would nod and smile, but I didn’t believe him. I had no idea if the film would work. I wasn’t sure I knew what I was doing. But I look back and realize that Chad knew something we all didn’t. He was playing the long game. All while putting in the work. And work he did.”