While fans are still trying to wrap their heads around the blockbuster franchise not including the king of Wakanda, no one is struggling to work around the loss quite like director Ryan Coogler.
Coogler, who is currently working on the follow-up to the 2018 hit, lost not only the star of the film, but also his friend. “This one hurts and stings, but it’s also incredibly motivating,” said Coogler on the Jemele Hill “Unbothered” podcast.
“I’m incredibly sad to lose him, but I’m also incredibly motivated that I got to spend time with him,” he said. “You spend your life hearing about people like him. For this individual, who is an ancestor now, I was there for it. It’s such an incredible privilege that fills you up as much as it knocks you out. So often as Black people, we have to pick up the pieces after loss.”
Coogler added that working on the sequel has shown him the ways in which his mourning has bled into his professional life.
“This is one of the more profound things that I’ve gone through in my life, having to be a part of keeping this project going without this particular person who is like the glue who held it together,” said the “Fruitvale Station” director.
While Coogler and the other “Black Panther” stars have remained mum on the details of the next film, Lupita Nyong’o told PEOPLE in March Chadwick’s legacy will be honored.
“It’s gonna be different, of course, without our king to go back into that world, but I know that all of us are dedicated to carrying on his legacy in this new ‘Black Panther.’ And Ryan Coogler has some really, really exciting ideas that I look forward to bringing to life with the rest of the family,” she said.
Some of the tricks include the 34-year-old bringing the fantasy land of Wakanda to life for an animated series on Disney+. The series is part of a five-year television deal Coogler’s multimedia company Proximity Media struck with Disney.