As the world continues to mourn the tragic passing of Chadwick Boseman, the actor’s “Black Panther” director Ryan Coogler paid tribute to the star on Sunday, Aug. 30. In a lengthy statement, Coogler reflected on their time together on set as well as Boseman’s legacy.
The “42” star died Friday, Aug. 28, at his home in the Los Angeles area after a private four-year-long battle with colon cancer. Boseman was surrounded by his wife, Taylor Simone Ledward, and family. He was 43.
Coogler revealed in his statement that he was unaware of Boseman’s illness, saying that, “After his family released their statement, I realized that he was living with his illness the entire time I knew him.”
The “Creed” director continued, “Because he was a caretaker, a leader, and a man of faith, dignity, and pride, he shielded his collaborators from his suffering. He lived a beautiful life. And he made great art. Day after day, year after year. That was who he was. He was an epic firework display. 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 had appeared in at least five films since receiving his 2016 diagnosis, which included demanding roles in MARVEL films such as “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Avengers: Endgame,” respectively.
Coogler and Boseman first met in 2016 while the director was on a press run for the film “Creed,” which starred Boseman’s friend and Black Panther costar Michael B. Jordan. Coogler revealed that not only did the two men bond over their vision for Wakanda, a fictional African country in the film “Black Panther,” but they also got to know each other on a personal level.
“I noticed then that Chad was an anomaly. He was calm. Assured. Constantly studying,” the director wrote. “But also kind, comforting, had the warmest laugh in the world, and eyes that seen much beyond his year, but could still sparkle like a child seeing something for the first time.”
Coogler said he was broken from the loss, referencing his time penning a script for the highly anticipated Panther sequel saying, “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. 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.”
The filmmaker concluded his statement saying, “It is with a heavy heart and a sense of deep gratitude to have ever been in his presence, that I have to reckon with the fact that Chad is an ancestor now. And I know that he will watch over us, until we meet again.” Check out Coogler’s full statement here.
Other colleagues of the late actor paid their respects, including actress Danai Gurira who shared a heartfelt tribute to her “brother” on Instagram and Twitter on the evening of Sunday, Aug. 30.
“How do you honor a king? Reeling from the loss of my colleague, my friend, my brother Struggling for words. Nothing feels adequate. I always marveled at how special Chadwick was. Such a pure-hearted, profoundly generous, regal, fun guy,” the actress wrote.
Gurira starred alongside Boseman in “Black Panther.” The actress played Okoye, General of the Dora Milaje, and the head of Wakandan armed forces. She continued, “My entire job as Okoye was to respect and protect a king. Honor his leadership. Chadwick made that job profoundly easy. He was the epitome of kindness, elegance, diligence and grace. On many an occasion I would think how thankful I was that he was the leading man I was working closely with.”
She concluded, “I am so thankful to have taken the Black Panther journey with him. To have known him, spent time in his light and leadership and to call him forever a friend.” Check out Gurira’s full statement below.