"I didn’t know Chad was sick," says Spike Lee, director of Da 5 Bloods, one of the last films to star the late Chadwick Boseman. His words are echoed by seemingly everyone who worked with and followed Chadwick Boseman, a very private actor who had been battling colon cancer while also making some of the biggest titles the box office has ever seen. The Black Panther star, a South Carolina native, passed away in August which is when the rest of the world learned he had been battling cancer for more than four years. Lee, nor his co-stars or filmmakers in the Marvel world, knew of Boseman's battle.
"He did not look well, but my mind never took that he had cancer," Lee told Variety. "It was a very strenuous shoot. I mean, we all didn’t get to Vietnam until the end of the movie at Ho Chi Minh City. But that other stuff, the jungle stuff, was shot in Thailand. It was 100 degrees every day. It was also at that time the worst air pollution in the world. I understand why Chadwick didn’t tell me because he didn’t want me to take it easy. If I had known, I wouldn’t have made him do the stuff. And I respect him for that."
Boseman had been planning on bulking back up to get to work on Marvel's Black Panther sequel later this year but his colon cancer took an intense turn in August, ultimately resulting in the actor passing away.
Like the rest of the world, Lee was shocked to hear of Boseman's passing, and remembers exactly how he learned the news.
"That night, for some reason, I went to bed early," Lee said. "And the fact that I went to bed early, I woke up early. It must have been I was tired. I went to open my phone, and my phone — the whole thing had been blowing up. I turned it off. I was in shock. And most recently, with my lovely wife, Tonya, we watched it [Da 5 Bloods] again for the first time after his transition. And it plays totally different. He’s a ghost already. You know the scene I’m talking about? It’s the scene where he comes back, him and Delroy. I felt it when we shot it."
The actor who brought T'Challa to life also portrayed several iconic real life figures in his acting career which was unquestionably on the rise. He portrayed Jackie Robinson in 42, Thurgood Marshall in Marshall, and James Brown in Get On Up.0comments
Boseman's co-stars from Black Panther, among other projects, have come out to share their reactions and condolences in the wake of Boseman's passing. Letitia Wright shared a video she made herself on Instagram. Director Ryan Coogler wrote a letter about his feelings. Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige shared his grief. Michael B. Jordan shared a powerful tribute to Boseman on his Instagram page.
Boseman grew up in South Carolina but left the state to go to college at Howard University in Washington D.C.. He would later move to California as he pursued his career in film.