Denzel Washington ‘Wondered If Something Was Wrong’ With Chadwick Boseman's Health Before His Death: It Was ‘Nobody’s Business'

Denzel Washington and Chadwick Boseman.
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Looking back with love. Denzel Washington reflected on working with the late Chadwick Boseman on Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom ahead of his death in 2020.

Washington, 67, spoke highly about Boseman’s work ethic on the Oscar-winning film during an interview with Variety published on Thursday, January 6, noting that no one knew at the time that it would be the Black Panther star’s last project. However, there were some signs that the actor’s health wasn’t in peak condition.

“I wondered if something was wrong because he seemed weak or tired sometimes,” the Remember the Titans star told the outlet. “We had no idea [he was sick], and it was nobody’s business. Good for him, keeping it to himself.”

The A Journal for Jordan director called Boseman a “man among men,” remembering him as someone who didn’t let his private battle with cancer deter him from doing what he loved.

“He suffered quietly. He made the movie, and nobody knew. I didn’t know,” Washington said. “He never said a peep about it. He just did his job.”

The 21 Bridges actor was diagnosed with stage III colon cancer in 2016. After quietly fighting the disease for four years, he died in August 2020 at the age of 43.

“A true fighter, Chadwick persevered through it all, and brought you many of the films you have come to love so much,” Boseman’s publicist noted in a statement to Us Weekly at the time. “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. It was the honor of his career to bring King T’Challa to life in Black Panther. He died in his home, with his wife and family by his side.”

The loss of the 42 actor was felt near and wide, with fans and Hollywood stars paying tribute to Boseman after news of his death made headlines. Washington, for his part, released a statement about his former costar at the time, calling him a “gentle soul.”

He was “a brilliant artist who will stay with us for eternity through his iconic performances over his short yet illustrious career,” the Tragedy of Macbeth actor said. “God bless Chadwick Boseman.”

One year after his passing, Boseman’s friends and costars honored his memory with even more heartfelt tributes.

“I did not know that I could miss both his laughter and his silence in equal measure,” Lupita Nyong’o, who worked with Boseman on Marvel’s Black Panther, wrote via Instagram in August 2021. “I do. I do… One year after his passing, the memory of @chadwickboseman remains this alive in me.”

Josh Gad also described how much his Marshall costar meant to him, writing via Twitter, “Not a day goes by one year later, where it doesn’t still hurt. But in the darkness, he always reminds us of the light. He was an angel on this planet and is now a Saint on high. Love you and miss you more than ever… forever. #ChadwickBoseman.”

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