The world was shocked and saddened last week when it was announced that Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman had passed away from cancer. This would have been tragic news under any circumstances, but the impact was greater because he kept his diagnosis private to the end. Since then, we’ve learned that none of his co-stars and nobody at Marvel Studios knew he was ill, making this as much a shock to them as it was for us.
Now, members of his inner circle who knew the closely guarded secret have begun to speak out. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Boseman’s producing partner Logan Coles, his agent Michael Greene and personal trainer Addison Henderson have revealed why he kept his illness a secret.
According to Greene, Boseman was inspired to keep his cancer battle private by his mother Carolyn, with his agent saying:
“[She] always taught him not to have people fuss over him. He also felt in this business that people trip out about things, and he was a very, very private person.”
This meant that Boseman was often quietly suffering on set. The last movie he shot was upcoming Netflix Original Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, which should be released fairly soon. Greene explained that “he was really in hardcore pain” during the shoot, but “felt that being able to be with [co-star] Denzel [Washington] and to launch this cycle of [playwright] August Wilson at Netflix was so exciting to him.”
They also note that Boseman understood that becoming a major movie star wasn’t a gift to be squandered and that it allowed him to uplift others. Henderson concluded by saying the following:
“Some people wait a lifetime to get the opportunity that he had and Chad had so much wisdom, so much knowledge, so much inside of him that he wasn’t going to let this disease stop him from telling these amazing stories and showing his art in the prime of his life.”
Struggling in secret with a deadly disease without ever asking for an ounce of sympathy? Now that’s heroic.
In related news, the recently-aired Chadwick Boseman tribute special can now be found on Disney Plus, as it was added to the streaming service earlier today.