Prior to his untimely death in 2020, Chadwick Boseman worked with Denzel Washington on the film Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. Washington served as a producer for the film, and during a recent interview with Variety, Washington admitted that he noticed Boseman’s declining health during filming.
“A man among men. He suffered quietly. He made the movie, and nobody knew. I didn’t know,” said Washington. “He never said a peep about it. He just did his job.”
“I wondered if something was wrong because he seemed weak or tired sometimes,” Washington added. “We had no idea, and it was nobody’s business. Good for him, keeping it to himself.”
Being able to work on the film together was a full circle moment for both Washington and Boseman. In 2019 the Black Panther star revealed while giving Washington the American Film Institute’s Lifetime Achievement Award, that he was one of the students who Washington secretly funded to attend an acting program at England’s Oxford University.
“Many of you already know the story that Mr. Washington, when asked by Phylicia Rashad to join her in assisting nine theater students from Howard University who had been accepted to a summer acting program at the British Academy of Dramatic Acting in Oxford, gracefully and privately agreed to contribute,” Boseman said during his speech.
“As fate would have it, I was one of the students that he paid for,” he added. “Imagine receiving the letter that your tuition for that summer was paid for and that your benefactor was none other than the dopest actor on the planet. … There is no Black Panther without Denzel Washington.”
Following Boseman’s death, Washington praised the actor, saying “He was a gentle soul and a brilliant artist who will stay with us for eternity through his iconic performances over his short yet illustrious career. God bless Chadwick Boseman.”