Chadwick Boseman, the actor who found fame as the star of “Black Panther” and who also portrayed pathbreaking Black figures such as Jackie Robinson, James Brown and Thurgood Marshall, died on Friday.
He was 43, his publicist, Nicki Fioravante, told The Associated Press. A statement posted on Mr. Boseman’s Instagram account said the actor learned in 2016 that he had Stage 3 colon cancer, which had progressed to Stage 4. It said he died in his home, with his wife and family by his side.
“It is with immeasurable grief that we confirm the passing of Chadwick Boseman,” the statement said.
“A true fighter, Chadwick persevered through it all, and brought you many of the films you have come to love so much,” the statement said. “From ‘Marshall’ to ‘Da 5 Bloods,’ August Wilson’s ‘Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom’ and several more, all were filmed during and between countless surgeries and chemotherapy.”
Mr. Boseman was best known for his role as T’Challa, or the Black Panther, king of the fictional African nation of Wakanda in the 2018 Marvel superhero movie “Black Panther.”
The film was a cultural touchstone — the first major superhero movie with an African protagonist; the first to star a majority Black cast; and in Ryan Coogler, the first to employ a Black writer and director.
The film represented a moment of hope, pride and empowerment for African-American moviegoers, many of whom planned special outings to see it and came dressed in African-inspired clothing and accessories.
Wakanda was powered by a mystery metal, vibranium, and had evaded the historical traumas endured by much of the rest of Africa, freeing it from the ravages of both colonialism and postcolonialism. The phrase “Wakanda forever” became a hashtag and rallying cry.
The statement on Mr. Boseman’s Instagram account said it was “the honor of his career to bring King T’Challa to life in ‘Black Panther.’”
Mr. Boseman also portrayed the baseball icon Jackie Robinson in “42,” in 2013, the soul singer James Brown in “Get On Up,” in 2014, and the Supreme Court justice Thurgood Marshall in “Marshall,” in 2017.
Brian Helgeland, the writer and director of “42,” which gave Mr. Boseman his breakout role, said that Mr. Boseman reminded him of sturdy, self-assured icons of 1970s virility, like Gene Hackman and Clint Eastwood.
“It’s the way he carries himself, his stillness — you just have that feeling that you’re around a strong person,” Mr. Helgeland said. “There’s a scene in the movie where Robinson’s teammate, Pee Wee Reese, puts his arm around him as a kind of show of solidarity. But Chad flips it on its head. He plays it like, ‘I’m doing fine, I’m tough as nails, but go ahead and put your arm around me if it makes you feel better.’ I think that’s who Chad is as a person.”
Source: The New York Times