Before his lead role in Black Panther, Chadwick Boseman — who died yesterday of colon cancer at the age of 43 — graduated from Howard University, wrote plays, acted and directed in theatre and had small roles in television.
Here’s your shortcut guide to some of Boseman’s roles and achievements and what we know about his illness.
He played black American icons
Boseman was seen as a rising star after his lead roles in two biopics, both of black American icons: Jackie Robinson and James Brown.
The actor was acclaimed for his performance in the 2013 film 42 as Robinson, the first African American to play major league baseball in the modern era.
And coincidentally, Boseman died on the day Major League Baseball was celebrating Robinson.
“His transcendent performance in 42 will stand the test of time and serve as a powerful vehicle to tell Jackie’s story to audiences for generations to come,” the league wrote on Twitter after his death.
Even at the outset of his Hollywood career, Boseman was clear eyed about — and even sceptical of — the industry in which he would become an international star.
“You don’t have the same exact experience as a black actor as you do as a white actor. You don’t have the same opportunities. That’s evident and true,” he told AP while promoting 42 back in 2013.
“The best way to put it is: How often do you see a movie about a black hero who has a love story? … he has a spirituality. He has an intellect. It’s weird to say it, but it doesn’t happen that often.”
A year later Boseman went on to play singer James Brown in the film Get On Up.
Then, Boseman was cast as Black Panther, the superhero identity of Wakanda leader T’Challa.
He made his Marvel debut in Captain America: Civil War, which was filmed in the first half of 2015 and released in cinemas in April 2016.
Black Panther was released in February 2018, breaking box office records and earning more than $US1 billion ($1.35 billion) worldwide.
In 2017, Boseman portrayed the future US Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall in the film Marshall.
Boseman also had a number of roles on TV shows. They included ABC Family’s Lincoln Heights and NBC’s Persons Unknown.
But before 42 he had only acted in one film, 2008’s football drama The Express.
He was also a writer, director and producer
Boseman first got into theatre, acting and writing plays as an undergrad at Howard.
He graduated from the university with a BFA in directing in 2000.
He visited Africa for the first time during college with director and theatre professor Mike Malone, working in Ghana to preserve and celebrate rituals with performances on a proscenium stage.
He told AP the trip had been “one of the most significant learning experiences of my life”.
Actor Denzel Washington funded a scholarship for Boseman to attend an acting program at England’s Oxford University.
In a statement after Boseman’s death, Washington said: “He was a gentle soul and a brilliant artist, who will stay with us for eternity through his iconic performances.”
Boseman took on his first producing job in last year’s action thriller 21 Bridges, in which he also starred.
Boseman was the screenwriter and director of the short drama film Blood Over a Broken Pawn in 2008 and he directed another short film, Heaven, in 2012, on which he was also the executive producer.
His other producing credits include In Retrospect, Message from the King, and Marshall.
He cared deeply about equality and the Black Lives Matter movement
Boseman regularly posted about equality and social justice issues on social media.
He used his Instagram to promote BLDPWR.com, which “works at the intersection of grassroots and narrative activism”, according to its website.
On Juneteenth, he posted a photo with his fist in the air and wrote: “Understanding our history is one of many ways to break the cycle of racial injustice in this country.”
His last Instagram post before the announcement of his death was a photo of him with US vice-presidential candidate Kamala Harris and comments urging his fans to vote.
At the 2019 Screen Actors Guild Awards, Black Panther won best ensemble, electrifying the room.
Before an auditorium full of actors, Boseman stepped up to the microphone and put the moment in context.
He began by quoting singer Nina Simone: “To be young, gifted and black.”
“We know what it’s like to be told there isn’t a screen for you to be featured on, a stage for you to be featured on … we know what’s like to be beneath and not above. And that is what we went to work with every day,” he said.
“We knew that we could create a world that exemplified a world we wanted to see. We knew that we had something to give.”
He kept his illness very private
In a statement after his death, Boseman’s family said the star was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer in 2016.
There were no reports Boseman had been diagnosed with cancer, or that he was even sick, during the production or promotion of Black Panther or the Avengers films.
But in April this year, fans raised concerns about his appearance.
Boseman had posted a video of himself to Instagram commemorating Jackie Robinson Day, which Major League Baseball usually celebrates on April 15.
He was noticeably thinner in the face and fans speculated whether he was dropping weight for an upcoming role or if he was unwell.
Boseman went on to delete the video from his social media account.