Last week, many were shocked by Chadwick Boseman’s seemingly out-of-nowhere death from colon cancer at age 43.
In a statement, it was revealed that Boseman had been battling cancer for four years without anyone knowing, except for close friends and family.
Boseman even kept his cancer battle secret from his co-stars and directors, including “Black Panther” director Ryan Coogler and “Da 5 Bloods” director Spike Lee.
Who knew about his diagnosis? His agent Michael Greene, his producing partner Logan Coles, his trainer Addison Henderson, and his family.
Greene explained that Chadwick’s decision to stay quiet about his cancer battle was influenced by his mom Carolyn. He told The Hollywood Reporter, “[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."
Greene revealed that Boseman “was really in hard-core pain” during the filming of his recent film “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” Despite his struggles, he shouldered on because “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."
Coles worked with Boseman on films like “21 Bridges” and “Message from the King.” Opening up about their friendship, Coles also reflected on their last conversations together in a heartbreaking piece for Variety. He shared, “In our last conversation about work he said to me, 'Tell ‘em what we did. Tell them all the work that was done and what I had to go through to tell those stories.' I said I would, but holding out hope I also added, 'But I want us to do it together bruh, like we’d set out to do all those years ago. We’ve got so many un-shot screenplays, too many unproduced movies. All these dope ideas of stories to tell about Black folks that we want the world to see.'"
“As we talked more, he told me, 'Don’t be scared.' To think, even amid all that he was going through in that moment he wanted to make sure that I was okay. He looked deeply at me, like only Bose could do, and he transferred a wealth of silent strength to me even as he grew weaker,” Coles continued. “In that last conversation he also said to me, '…You better not stop, hear me?’ And I nodded and simply replied, 'Okay.' I’m still not sure I know how to do that, but I’m listening to my brother and I’m going to push through.”
Coles also introduced Boseman to Henderson, who trained him for “Black Panther” and “Marshall.” Referencing his father who beat cancer four times, Henderson told THR, “I used to tell Chad, 'Man, you remind me of my dad. You guys are fighters, and you never stop moving forward.' For us, it was just like, 'Let’s keep going, let’s keep doing what you want to do, let’s keep training.' And then, me and Logan and his family, his wife [Taylor Simone Ledward], we were always just here to support him."
A source recently told the outlet that Boseman was convinced that he would beat cancer and gain enough weight to star in the sequel for “Black Panther.”
Days ago, “Extra’s” Nate Burleson spoke with Chadwick’s college friend J. Kyle Manzay, who also knew of his cancer battle. He said, “I didn’t know how severe. I knew he had it and that it returned.”
Manzay emphasized, “But we’re family and that’s not something that we put out there… A lot of people really, really close to him didn’t know till recently as well. That’s the way he chose to handle it.”
Getting emotional, Manzay pointed out, “One of the most profound things, when we last spoke, even when he was going through what he was going through secretly, he was talking about there was a kid dying, he wanted a ‘Black Panther’ package… and he went out of his way to get this kid a ‘Black Panther’ package… That’s him… He’s just a great, great human being.”