Black Panther director says Chadwick Boseman hid illness to ‘shield collaborators from his suffering’

An emotional tribute to American actor Chadwick Boseman by film director Ryan Coogler has hailed the late actor as “a man of faith, dignity and pride”.

Boseman, who starred in many recent films including Black Panther, died last week after battling colon cancer.

Coogler was the director of Black Panther, a movie from the Marvel franchise which was released in 2018.

In a long tribute to his lead actor and friend, Coogler described Boseman as an “epic firework” who “made great art, day after day, year after year”.

“I haven’t grieved a loss this acute before. I spent the last year preparing, imagining and writing words for him to say, that we weren’t destined to see,” Coogler wrote.

“It leaves me broken knowing that I won’t be able to watch another close-up of him in the monitor again or walk up to him and ask for another take.

“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.”

Still from Black Panther film of the superhero facing an enemy.
Chadwick Boseman, who starred in Black Panther, died of colon cancer aged 43.(Supplied: Disney/Marvel Studios)

Boseman had several hit roles portraying famous African Americans.

In 2013, he started in the movie 42, portraying famous baseball player Jackie Robinson.

He also played artist James Brown in the movie Get on Up.

But it was in Black Panther as the lead character T’Challa that Boseman will be best remembered.

In his tribute to Boseman, Coogler described the power of the actor’s performances when he portrayed the character.

I had the privilege of directing scenes of Chad’s character, T’Challa, communicating with the ancestors of Wakanda.

We were in Atlanta, in an abandoned warehouse, with bluescreens, and massive movie lights, but Chad’s performance made it feel real. I think it was, because from the time that I met him, the ancestors spoke through him.

It’s no secret to me now how he was able to skillfully portray some of our most notable ones. I had no doubt that he would live on and continue to bless us with more.

‘He was living with his illness the entire time I knew him’

Like many other people, Coogler did not know about Boseman’s battle with cancer.

The director said a combination of Boseman’s privacy, coupled with his role as a leader in the African American community, meant he hid his illness.

“After his family released their statement, I realised that he was living with his illness the entire time I knew him,” Coogler wrote.

“Because he was a caretaker, a leader, and a man of faith, dignity and pride, he shielded his collaborators from his suffering.

“I know that he will watch over us, until we meet again.”

Coogler is one of many famous stars to express their grief over the death of Boseman.

Actor Josh Gad posted on social media a few of the last texts he received from Boseman.

“He knew how precious every moment was. Tonight the Heavens received one of its most powerful angels,” Gad wrote.


Denzel Washington told The Hollywood Reporter that Boseman’s performances will last forever.

“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,” Washington said.

“God bless Chadwick Boseman.”


On Sunday, Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton dedicated his win in the Belgian Grand Prix to Boseman.

“It’s been an emotional weekend, I want to dedicate this win to Chad and his family, he was such an inspiration and his legacy will live on,” Hamilton wrote.