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Denzel Washington recalls Chadwick Boseman being ‘weak and tired’ on last movie set before dying

Chadwick Boseman in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom David Lee/Netflix

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Denzel Washington recalls Chadwick Boseman being ‘weak and tired’ on last movie set before dying

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Denzel Washington has discussed his final collaboration with Chadwick Boseman in an open letter.

Washington has spoken up about his time working with Chadwick on the late actor’s final film, saying he had no idea the star was terminally ill.

The Oscar-winning 2020 Netflix film Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, which also starred Viola Davis, was produced by the actor, who is 67 years old. In an interview with Variety for the magazine’s newest cover story, Washington acknowledges that he noticed Boseman’s deteriorating condition while filming.

After Denzel’s funding of Chadwick’s Oxford education, the two formed a particular friendship. Years would pass before the two stars crossed paths. However, after meeting in person, the two men developed a mutual affection and respect for one another. Regrettably, their time together was limited.

“He suffered quietly,” Washington recalled of Boseman, calling him “a man among men.” “He made the movie, and nobody knew. I didn’t know. He never said a peep about it. He just did his job. I wondered if something was wrong because he seemed weak or tired sometimes. We had no idea, and it was nobody’s business. Good for him, keeping it to himself.”

The Equalizer star’s fatherly instinct went off as he thought something was wrong with his main man, . But, unlike some, he didn’t probe or snoop behind Boseman’s back. Washington showed enough respect for the Black Panther actor’s privacy to allow him to cope with his sickness on his own terms. Denzel Washington’s account highlighted Chadwick Boseman’s tenacity and will to finish the film without any special treatment or sympathy.

Boseman preferred not to tell anybody in the film industry about his health problems, thus his death came as a shock to both his peers and admirers.

On Aug. 28, 2020, at the age of 43, the Black Panther actor died of colon cancer. He was diagnosed with stage III colon cancer in 2016 and fought it privately for four years as it advanced to stage IV.

Since his untimely death, Denzel Washington has been nothing but complimentary to the Get on Up actor. Boseman, along with co-stars Rami Malek and Jared Leto in The Little Things, were commended by the two-time Oscar winner for their remarkable acting abilities. Boseman was included in the Netflix documentary Chadwick Boseman: Portrait of an Artist, which Washington praised. The late actor was compared to waterless orange juice by the Flight star, who described him as “too strong, too good, and too powerful.”

Washington had a strong relationship with Black Panther protagonist T’Challa. Boseman said in 2019 that Washington once paid for him and other Howard University classmates to attend an acting school at Oxford University in England.

“Many of you already know the story that Mr. Washington, when asked by Phylicia Rashad to join her in assisting nine theater students from Howard University who had been accepted to a summer acting program at the British Academy of Dramatic Acting in Oxford, gracefully and privately agreed to contribute,” Boseman said in his speech before Washington received the American Film Institute’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2019.

In a CBS Sunday Morning interview after his death, Washington described how he persuaded Boseman to marry his wife, Taylor Simone Ledward. Before Boseman’s death, the two had been dating since 2015 and had married at some point.

“I used to watch how she took care of him,” Washington revealed. “And I actually said to him … ‘Man, you know, you need to put a ring on that finger,’ cause she kept her eye on him and she watched him. And I’m like, ‘Man, she loves that guy.’ … But I didn’t know what we know now.”

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