Though Chadwick Boseman may have been in the spotlight for only seven years, he will be known as one of the most talented Hollywood stars in history. The legendary actor, producer, and playwright landed his first big role as Jackie Robinson in the 2013 film 42, wowing fans and critics alike with his performance. The South Carolina native rocketed to stardom in 2018 when he played the iconic role of T’Challa in Black Panther. Tragically, his career was cut short on August 28, 2020, when he passed away from colon cancer at just 43 years old.
The world has continued to mourn Boseman and honor his legacy since his passing. His final film, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, was released on Netflix on December 18, 2020. His wife, Taylor Simone Ledward, accepted four Critics Choice Awards on March 7, 2021, on his behalf, as reported by Entertainment Tonight. Still, fans are yearning to know more about the acclaimed actor and not just the roles he played. Learn more about the late Chadwick Boseman after the jump.
Boseman wrote his first play about the death of a high school classmate
While Chadwick Boseman was best known for his diverse acting skills, his career in theater and film began with writing. He started writing plays as a teen while attending T.L. Hanna High School in South Carolina, via WSPA Channel 7 News.
According to Theater Mania, his first play was titled Crossroads and performed by his classmates. It was inspired by a young man on the school’s basketball team who was fatally shot. This was just one early example of Boseman’s desire to highlight important issues in his work.
The star continued to pursue his theatrical career at Howard University, where his teacher and actor Phylicia Rashad took him under her wing. He then wrote a number of plays in the early 2000s after graduating from the British American Drama Academy at Oxford, including Deep Azure, which was nominated for a Jeff Award in 2006 for Best New Play.
In an artist statement, Boseman described Deep Azure as “an experiment to push the boundaries of the genre of Hip Hop theater, which was itself pushing the boundaries of theater.”
Chadwick kept his cancer diagnosis under wraps to avoid the unwanted attention
It’s now a well-known fact that Chadwick Boseman was an extremely private person. Hiding his cancer diagnosis was so important to him that only a few people knew about it. This included his producing partner Logan Coles, agent Michael Greene, trainer Addison Henderson, mother, Caroline Boseman, wife Taylor Simone Ledward, and a few other members of his family.
In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Greene revealed why the actor did not want the world to know about his diagnosis. “Chadwick did not want to have people fuss over him,” he explained. The inspiration behind the decision reportedly came from Caroline, who always taught him not to attract that kind of attention.
Greene further noted, per NBC News, “He also felt in this business that people trip out about things, and he was a very, very private person.”
Dr. Wayne A.I. Frederick, the president of Howard University, thought the decision may have also come from a desire to not burden anyone. “One of his greatest attributes was never burdening anyone else,” he explained, “but being there to shoulder everyone else’s burdens.”
Boseman once purposely chose a highly criticized role
Chadwick Boseman was known for carefully picking his movie roles and avoiding stereotypical characters. As a result, fans were surprised to see him in the 2016 film Gods of Egypt, where he played an all-knowing, magical Black deity named Thoth. The film was criticized for reinforcing the cinematic character arch known as “The Magical Negro,” as described by the Perception Insitute, in which a supporting stock Black character (ie. Thoth) is there to help the white protagonists on their journey.
Interestingly, Boseman was aware of the issue but still chose to accept the role. “When I originally was approached with the script, I thought this [critique] might come up, I really did,” Boseman said in an interview with GQ Magazine. “And I’m thankful that it did because actually, I agree with it. That’s why I wanted to do it, so you would see someone of African descent playing Thoth, the father of mathematics, astronomy, the god of wisdom. And in the movie, I actually outnumber the other gods in the movie, literally and figuratively. It’s hard for people to know that without seeing it.”
The Black Panther star also agreed that there is a significant problem with whitewashing in Hollywood, noting, “People don’t make $140 million movies starring Black and brown people.”
Boseman loved Thai food
In 2018, YouTubers Helen Haile and Jack Matthew had the opportunity to interview Chadwick Boseman for the release of Black Panther. The star discussed the pressure of taking on the role of T’Challa and how lucky he felt to work with the other Marvel stars such as Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, and Scarlet Johansson.
Haile and Matthew also asked Boseman a series of rapid-fire questions during the interview so that fans could get to know him better. When asked about his favorite meal, Boseman replied, “Thai food!”
He also revealed that he’s not exactly a fan of fast food. When Haile asked him, “Wendy’s or MacDonalds?” He replied, “neither.”
Boseman was known to be very healthy and nearly vegan unless he needed to put on weight for a physically-demanding movie.
When he had to gain weight for the 2014 film Draft Day, for instance, he revealed in an interview with Total Access that he broke with his normal diet to boost his protein and calorie intake.
“I really don’t eat beef or pork,” he explained in the interview. “So [for Draft Day] I was eating a lot of steak and hamburgers and potatoes.”
Chadwick hinted he was keeping a secret back in 2018
In the 2018 interview with Helen Haile and Jack Matthew, Chadwick Boseman seemed to hint that he was harboring a big secret.
“I want to know,” Haile asked. “What do you, Chadwick, and T’Challa have in common?”
Boseman laughed and said, “Not much, not much. He’s got a lot more money than me.” Then he gave a more serious answer, “Patience. And [an] ability to keep secrets.”
Fans watching the interview after his passing noticed the word choice. In the comments, a YouTube user wrote, “‘Patience and the ability to keep secrets.’ heartbroken.” Another user replied, “Yeah, that stood out to me as well.”
In the interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Boseman’s trainer, Addison Henderson, said that the late actor did not want his illness to prevent him from working. “Chad had so much wisdom, so much knowledge,” he shared, “so much inside of him that he wasn’t going to let this disease stop him from telling these amazing stories and showing his art in the prime of his life.”
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