The absence of Chadwick Boseman is ever-present as “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” is finally nearing its theatrical release. In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Angela Bassett shared the special way she and her castmates faced the heavy feelings of grief since the untimely passing of Chadwick Boseman.
The actor who played the titular character passed away at the age of 43 in 2020. His death was marked by a private, four-year battle with cancer. In previous interviews, Bassett, director Ryan Coogler and others have expressed sorrow at losing the fictional empire of Wakanda’s leader, King T’Challa.
As previously reported, Boseman’s role in the 2019 blockbuster “Black Panther,” was not recast ahead of the production for “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.” Instead, his death became part of the script. Cast members such as Letitia Wright and Lupita Nyong’o have said the film pays homage to both Boseman and T’challa, some of which is seen in the film’s two trailers. But before cameras ever began rolling, Bassett, who plays Queen Ramonda, said it was important for her and the cast to visit the “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” actor’s grave.
“We were able to do that to give love and feel his spirit and stand there with him before we did one frame of anything,” Bassett told THR. She continued, “That was such an important grounding for us because, as you can imagine, emotion was all over the place. People are on the verge — his [onscreen] sister, his love, his general, all of us. I’m getting goosebumps now. We were on the verge of tears, of ‘How are we going to do this, go on without him?’ ”
In September, Wright, who plays Black Panther’s younger sister, Shuri, told PEOPLE she often felt Boseman’s presence and heard his voice while on set. “I will always have moments on set of doubt, and I’ll be like, ‘Oh man, I don’t know if I can do this.’ I could just hear [Boseman] be like, ‘Sister, you’re great. You got this. I’m proud of you.’ That really just kept me moving forward,” she said.