It may be altogether impossible to imagine an MCU star more beloved or lamented than Chadwick Boseman. The Black Panther actor, who passed away at the tragically premature age of 43, was universally beloved by his colleagues, and his absence echoes in the multi-billion dollar movie franchise to this day.
But that doesn’t mean things were always smooth sailing. Co-star Lupita Nyong’o recalls a time when the two came to odds and also when she realized the truth behind his decisions.
Nyong’o recently graced the cover of The Hollywood Reporter and sat down to speak about her career, early Oscar win, and, of course, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, the upcoming MCU sequel set to hit theaters next month. Nyong’o is will reprise her original role as Nakia, who served among other things as the Panther aka T’Challa’s love interest in the original film. The conversation inevitably turned to Boseman who Nyong’o described to The Reporter as the film’s spiritual center.
“He had an aura,” Nyong’o said. “He was the leader, and we were all good with it.”
That’s not to say that they never disagreed though.
“There were moments when Chadwick said no to me, and I was not happy with him,” she recalled. “I fought tooth and nail to change his mind, and he would ever so quietly be like, ‘I know, but no,’ with love.”
Nyong’o pointedly recalled an occasion she begged Boseman to accompany her and Danai Gurira, who plays Okoye, head of the elite Dora Milaje special forces in the films, to South Africa. To Nyong’o, the cast’s appearance was a potent political symbol. And she told Boseman as much but he persistently refused.
Unbeknownst to the Oscar-winning actor, Boseman was at the time, fighting colon cancer, and was unable to make the journey. “Now I understand he was battling cancer and probably had medical reasons,” she stated. “I tried everything. I tried charm. I debated him on the political front, and he smiled, he sighed, and he was just like, ‘I know, Lupita. I can’t go.’ ”
Boseman instead sent a personal message with Nyong’o and Gurira to be read during press conferences. Nyong’o has this to say about her late co-star.
“What he inspired was you to be your best self. So how I’m going to lead a set is nowhere near — I’m not that person. I’m not Chadwick at all. I’ll never be.”
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever opens in theaters on Nov. 11.