On Sunday, director Ryan Coogler shared a letter he wrote to Chadwick Boseman, after the late actor’s death.
In the letter, Coogler shares his experience working with Boseman on Black Panther. He says how they would share ideas on their collective vision for Wakanda. Whether it be the language is spoken, the dancing, costumes, or the accent used, Coogler respected Boseman’s vision.
Through the conversations, they also talked about each other’s lives, and that’s when Coogler began to get a better picture of who Boseman was.
“I noticed then that Chad was an anomaly. He was calm. Assured. Constantly studying. But also kind, comforting, had the warmest laugh in the world, and eyes that seen much beyond his years, but could still sparkle like a child seeing something for the first time.”
At times where Coogler would be unsure about how the film would come out, Boseman would always reassure Coogler about what he was doing. According to Coogler, Boseman knew the impact that Black Panther would have.
“They not ready for this, what we are doing…” “This is Star Wars, this is Lord of the Rings, but for us… and bigger!” He would say this to me while we were struggling to finish a dramatic scene, stretching into double overtime. Or while he was covered in body paint, doing his own stunts. Or crashing into frigid water, and foam landing pads. I would nod and smile, but I didn’t believe him. I had no idea if the film would work. I wasn’t sure I knew what I was doing. But I look back and realize that Chad knew something we all didn’t. He was playing the long game. All while putting in the work. And work he did.”
Coogler also says he was not made aware of the details of Boseman’s illness. Boseman valued his privacy, and it was not until Boseman’s family made an official announcement did Coogler realize he worked with Boseman throughout his illness.
“Chad deeply valued his privacy, and I wasn’t privy to the details of his illness. After his family released their statement, I realized that he was living with his illness the entire time I knew him. Because he was a caretaker, a leader, and a man of faith, dignity and pride, he shielded his collaborators from his suffering. He lived a beautiful life. And he made great art. Day after day, year after year. That was who he was. He was an epic firework display. I will tell stories about being there for some of the brilliant sparks till the end of my days. What an incredible mark he’s left for us.”
You can read the letter here