Viola Davis Remembered Chadwick Boseman In Ma Rainey


Updated 11 minutes ago. Posted 11 minutes ago

“You didn’t see any of it.”

Last month, Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman died at the age of 43, after a colon cancer diagnosis.

Valerie Macon / Getty Images

Since then, his co-stars have been honoring his memory by sharing stories of what it was like to work with him.


It was revealed that Chadwick filmed his most iconic roles after his diagnosis in 2016, while keeping his illness private.

This week, in a new interview with Zora, Viola Davis talked about working with Chadwick on his last movie, Netflix’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.

Rachel Murray / Getty Images

Based on August Wilson’s award-winning play of the same name, the movie follows Ma Rainey, a blues singer in 1920’s Chicago who deals with struggles of race and relationships in the music industry. Viola stars as Ma Rainey, while Chadwick played Levee, a trumpeter in the band with aspirations of going solo.

“He was extremely tired,” the Oscar-winner said, remembering Chadwick. “But, there’s a lot of tired people in the business, especially people in his position.”

David Lee / David Lee/Netflix

“In hindsight, I noticed all the wonderful people he surrounded himself with were always praying over him and meditating over him, and I thought that was part of what he demanded or [how he] created that sacred space. I didn’t know they were just trying to pour life and energy into him.”

David Lee / David Lee/Netflix

“He would just fall asleep standing up, but boy, when that camera rolled? You didn’t see any of it.”

David Lee / David Lee/Netflix

“He was thinner,” added the film’s director, George C. Wolf, “But I thought, you know, actors they fast, they do all these things. I also thought he was shedding some of the Black Panther facade. And the leanness and that kind of leanness worked very well for Levee.”

“He was not chasing the green, not chasing the money, just chasing the work,” Viola continued. “He had a willingness to let go of ego and, almost an insistence, to leave Chadwick Boseman at the door, and leave that Black Panther-making-a-billion-dollars at the door.”

David Lee / David Lee/Netflix

This just confirms what we already know — Chadwick was incredibly talented and a pure soul. He will be missed. RIP 💔.


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