Not Even Ryan Coogler, Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther Director Knew of His Cancer Diagnosis

Chadwick Boseman

Since his death on August 28, fans, friends and colleagues of the late Chadwick Boseman have taken to social media to pay tribute to the actor.

Boseman, who died after a private four-year battle with colon cancer, was most famous for his role in 2018’s Black Panther.

Film director, Ryan Coogler, described the 43-year-old as “a man of faith, dignity and pride”.

In a lengthy tribute released via a statement, Coogler called Boseman an “epic firework” who “made great art, day after day, year after year”.

“I haven’t grieved a loss this acute before. I spent the last year preparing, imagining and writing words for him to say, that we weren’t destined to see,” Coogler wrote.

“It leaves me broken knowing that I won’t be able to watch another close-up of him in the monitor again or walk up to him and ask for another take.

“I will tell stories about being there for some of the brilliant sparks till the end of my days. What an incredible mark he’s left for us.”

Boseman chose to keep his cancer battle private and like many, Coogler did not know that his friend and colleague had been diagnosed.

“After his family released their statement, I realised that he was living with his illness the entire time I knew him,” Coogler wrote.

“Because he was a caretaker, a leader, and a man of faith, dignity and pride, he shielded his collaborators from his suffering.

“I know that he will watch over us until we meet again,” he said.

Black Panther

In 2017, Boseman appeared in an interview with the Huffington Postwhere journalist, Matthew Jacobs, discussed his physical transformation between his Marshall character and T’Challa in Black Panther.

“You came off of one Black Panther project, did Marshall and then made another Black Panther movie. Did you bulk up, slim down and then bulk up again,” Jacobs asked.

Boseman replied “(Nodding his head) Right. Yeah, yeah, yeah.”

“You’ve been through the wringer,” Jacobs said.

“Oh, you don’t even know (laughs). You have no idea. One day I’ll live to tell the story,” Boseman responded.

Tributes have been flowing in from around the globe, with Frozen actor and Boseman’s Marshall co-star, Josh Gad, sharing one of the final messages he had received from his colleague.

“This was one of my final texts from the brilliant & once-in-lifetime talent, @chadwickboseman — take this in & celebrate life [sic],” he wrote.

The text to Gad entitled Catch the Rain was written three weeks into the Los Angeles lockdown when he was “stuck inside these damn quarantines because of the COVID.”

“But now that the rain has stopped and today’s storm has cleared, I urge you to go outside and take a DEEP breath.

“Notice how fresh the air is right now after our skies have had a three-week break from the usual relentless barrage of fumes from bumper to bumper LA commuters, and now today’s rain has given the City of Angels a long overdo [sic] and much-needed shower. Inhale and exhale this moment, and thank God for the unique beauties and wonders of the day.”

“We should take advantage of every moment we can to enjoy the simplicity of God’s creation, whether it be clear skies and sun or clouded over with gloom.”

Gad also shared a moving video, saying there were no “words to express what an amazing human being Chadwick Boseman was.”

“Beyond just being Black Panther, Chadwick was T’Challah in real life, he was somebody who just gave and gave and gave and never stopped giving. 2020 has been so devastating for so many reasons — this one hurts because it’s taking away somebody who was honestly one of the greats.

“I don’t know how to process this, but I want to send my love to his entire family and to all the fans out there, he’s gonna be missed. Love you guys, stay safe. Chadwick, rest in peace my friend, love you.”

Boseman’s death was announced via social media, with the final tweet posted to his account now the most-liked in Twitter history.

At the time of publication, it had over 7.2 million ‘likes’.

“It is with immeasurable grief that we confirm the passing of Chadwick Boseman. Chadwick was diagnosed with stage III colon cancer in 2016, and battled with it these last 4 years as it progressed to stage IV,” it read.

“A true fighter, Chadwick persevered through it all and brought you many of the films you have come to love so much. 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 honour 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.”

Chadwick Boseman’s decision to keep his cancer diagnosis private reiterates that we never know what someone is dealing with privately. In the months before his death, Boseman was accused of looking ‘too skinny’ in a video posted to Instagram. It’s an important reminder to always be kind.

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