Tributes paid to Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman following death aged 43
Tributes have been paid to actor Chadwick Boseman, best known for playing superhero Black Panther, following his death at the age of 43 after a battle with cancer.
In an announcement that stunned Hollywood, Boseman’s family said he had been diagnosed with colon cancer four years ago and died surrounded by his loved ones, including wife Taylor Simone Ledward.
He never discussed the illness publicly and films including Black Panther, Da 5 Bloods and Avengers: Endgame were all filmed “during and between countless surgeries and chemotherapy,” the family said.
Tributes to Boseman poured in from across a reeling Hollywood.
Marvel chief Kevin Feige, who cast him as Black Panther, said his death was “absolutely devastating,” while Get Out filmmaker Jordan Peele said it was a “crushing blow”.
Oscar-winner Barry Jenkins and Marvel stars Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth and Chris Pratt also paid tribute.
Boseman was cast as superhero T’Challa, the king of African nation Wakanda, in 2014, and made his debut as the character in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War.
Chris Evans played Captain America and said: “I’m absolutely devastated. This is beyond heartbreaking. Chadwick was special. A true original. He was a deeply committed and constantly curious artist. He had so much amazing work still left to create. I’m endlessly grateful for our friendship. Rest in power, King.”
The release of Black Panther in 2018, two years after Boseman was diagnosed with stage three colon cancer, was a landmark moment for representation in Hollywood.
Both the film and Boseman’s portrayal of the titular superhero achieved universal acclaim as well as huge success at the box office.
It grossed more than 1.3 billion dollars worldwide (about £974 million) and earned an Academy Award best picture nomination, the first superhero movie to do so.
It also sparked a worldwide celebration of African culture, with the character’s famous “Wakanda Forever” salute inspiring millions of people to feel an added sense of pride in their African heritage.
A sequel, Black Panther 2, had been set for release in 2022, but it is unclear what will now happen with the film.
Born in South Carolina, Boseman originally wanted to become a writer and director, graduating from Howard University in 2000 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in directing.
After moving to Los Angeles to pursue his acting career, Boseman’s breakthrough role came in the 2013 film 42, in which he starred as baseball pioneer Jackie Robinson.
Boseman again assumed the role of a revered African American figure when he starred as soul singer James Brown in the 2014 film Get on Up.
His most recent film was Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods, which arrived in June. He played a US soldier killed in action during the Vietnam War and was widely lauded for the performance.
Boseman is set to make a posthumous appearance alongside Viola Davis in upcoming drama film Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.
She wrote: “Chadwick…..no words to express my devastation of losing you.
“Your talent, your spirit, your heart, your authenticity……..It was an honour working beside you, getting to know you….Rest well prince…May flights of angels sing thee to thy heavenly rest. I love you!”
Announcing his death, the family said: “It is with immeasurable grief that we confirm the passing of Chadwick Boseman. It was the honour of his life to bring King T’Challa to life in Black Panther.”
In his tribute, Feige, the mastermind behind the extraordinarily successful Marvel Cinematic Universe, said: “Chadwick’s passing is absolutely devastating. He was our T’Challa, our Black Panther, and our dear friend. Each time he stepped on set, he radiated charisma and joy, and each time he appeared on screen, he created something truly indelible.
“He embodied a lot of amazing people in his work, and nobody was better at bringing great men to life. He was as smart and kind and powerful and strong as any person he portrayed. Now he takes his place alongside them as an icon for the ages. The Marvel Studios family deeply mourns his loss, and we are grieving tonight with his family.”
Oscar-winning director Barry Jenkins tweeted: “In power Eternally in power.”
Matthew A Cherry, best known for the 2019 Academy Award-winning animated short film, Hair Love, said: “Chadwick was really out here shooting all of these huge action movies while fighting stage 4 colon cancer. Man. Strong isn’t even the word.”
Ruffalo played Hulk in the Marvel films, and said: “It was the highest honour getting to work with you and getting to know you. What a generous and sincere human being.
“You believed in the sacred nature of the work and gave your all. Much love to your family. And much love from all of us left here.”
Don Cheadle also starred with Boseman in the Marvel films. Alongside a picture of them together, he posted: “i will miss you, birthday brother. you were always light and love to me. my god … forever and ever …”
Hemsworth plays Thor in the Marvel films. Alongside a picture of him and Boseman, he said: “Gonna miss you mate. Absolutely heartbreaking. One of the kindest most genuine people I’ve met. Sending love and support to all the family xo RIP @chadwickboseman.”
Writing on Instagram, Pratt said: “My prayers go out to Chadwick’s family and loved ones. The world will miss his tremendous talent. God rest his soul. #wakandaforever.”
British actor Martin Freeman also starred in Black Panther, and said he is “absolutely shocked” by Boseman’s death.
He said: “Chadwick was thoughtful, watchful, and totally committed in his work. A boyish grin and a contagious laugh.
“To still do what he did, when he must have been going through some terrible physical and emotional pain, is testament to the man.
“My heartfelt condolences to his family and those he loved. Rest in Peace brother.”
Joe Biden, the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee, praised Boseman’s impact, saying his portrayal of Black Panther “inspired generations”.
He said: “The true power of @ChadwickBoseman was bigger than anything we saw on screen. From the Black Panther to Jackie Robinson, he inspired generations and showed them they can be anything they want — even super heroes.”
Biden added he and wife Jill were praying for Boseman’s loved ones. His running mate, Kamala Harris, also paid tribute.
Boseman’s final tweet was a picture of himself alongside Harris, congratulating her on the nomination.
In her tribute, Harris said: “Heartbroken. My friend and fellow Bison Chadwick Boseman was brilliant, kind, learned, and humble. He left too early but his life made a difference. Sending my sincere condolences to his family.”
Award-winning actor Sterling K Brown had a supporting role in Black Panther and shared a tribute to Boseman on Twitter.
He said: “I don’t have words. Rest In Peace, Bruh. Thank you for all you did while you were here. Thank you for being a friend. You are loved. You will be missed.”
Robert Iger, executive chairman of the Walt Disney Company which owns Marvel, said: “We are all heartbroken by the tragic loss of #chadwickboseman — an extraordinary talent, and one of the most gentle and giving souls I have ever met.
“He brought enormous strength, dignity and depth to his groundbreaking role of Black Panther; shattering myths and stereotypes, becoming a long-awaited hero to millions around the world, and inspiring us all to dream bigger and demand more than the status quo.
“We mourn all that he was, as well as everything he was destined to become. For his friends and millions of fans, his absence from the screen is only eclipsed by his absence from our lives. All of us at Disney send our prayers and heartfelt condolences to his family.”
The film academy described Boseman’s death as an “immeasurable loss”.
Idris Elba wrote on Instagram: “Rest in peace Brother Chadwick. I’m saddened by this loss.
“Chadwick was a very thoughtful, hardworking man. Prideful and strong. He will me missed by the filmmaking community and fans of his solid work.
“My thoughts reach out to his family right now.”
Wonder Woman actress Gal Gadot tweeted: “I’m so shocked and sad.. RIP Chadwick – I’m sending my condolences to all the family..”