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Remembering Chadwick Boseman

| Thursday, September 3, 2020

Mary O'Reilly | The Observer

There are many stars who leave this world, their deaths hurting fans all over the world. But few celebrity deaths have been more shocking than Chadwick Boseman’s sudden passing Aug. 28, from stage IV colon cancer. 

Born Chadwick Aaron Boseman on Nov. 29, 1976, in Anderson, South Carolina, he wrote his first play during his junior year of high school and staged it at his high school after a classmate was shot and killed. He attended Howard University in Washington D.C., studying acting under acclaimed thespian Phylicia Rashad. She helped him raise funds so he could further his studies and attend the Oxford Mid-Summer Program of the British American Drama Academy in London. 

Boseman got his start in acting in 2003 in an episode of the crime drama show “Third Watch.” The same year, he starred in the soap opera “All My Children” as Reggie Montgomery. However, he was fired after voicing concerns to producers about racist stereotypes in the script, and was replaced by his eventual “Black Panther” co-star Michael B. Jordan. He starred in other shows such as “Law & Order,” “CSI: NY” and “ER.” 

In 2008, he appeared in his first feature film, the Ernie Davis biopic “The Express.“ Only five years later, Boseman graduated to leading man status with “42,“ where he shined as Jackie Robinson. The film was a massive success, with critics singling out Boseman’s performance for acclaim. 

Of all of Boseman’s performances, his role as King T’Challa/Black Panther in the Marvel Cinematic Universe garnered the most attention. After an initial cameo in 2016’s “Captain America: Civil War,” Boseman returned to the role in 2018’s critical and commercial smash “Black Panther,” praised for its performances by Boseman and Michael B. Jordan and its direction by Ryan Coogler. Boseman reprised the Black Panther character in “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Avengers: Endgame.”  

In between “Captain America: Civil War” and the other Marvel movies, Boseman portrayed the first African American Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall in the 2017 biographical legal drama flick “Marshall.” Despite the now-expected plaudits for Boseman’s performance, the movie only grossed $10 million against a $12 million budget. 

Boseman was correctly described by Variety‘s Owen Gleiberman as “a virtuoso actor who had the rare ability to create a character from the outside in and the inside out.” Boseman’s unique skill was creating characters that fit into the worlds of his films, all the while giving viewers a look into the acting process in real time. 

At the time of Boseman’s passing, the state of South Carolina ordered the state house to fly the flags at half-staff. Sunday evening, ABC aired “Black Panther” without any commercials, followed by a retrospective of Boseman’s life and career, titled “Chadwick Boseman: A Tribute for a King.” 

Rest in power, Chadwick.

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