More than sixth months after his death in August 2020, Chadwick Boseman and his legacy continue to ring through Hollywood. Not only is he expected to win a posthumous Best Actor Oscar statue for his leading turn in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” but he also has a voice role in the Marvel animated series “What If…?” set for release later this year. Boseman’s role as T’Challa in the “Black Panther” franchise isn’t going to be recast for “Black Panther 2,” set for release in 2022, which means writer-director Ryan Coogler is currently reworking the story to continue without Boseman or his fan-favorite character. In a recent interview on the “Jemele Hill Is Unbothered” podcast (via People), Coogler opened up about how he’s still grappling with the loss of Boseman.
“I’m still currently going through it,” Coogler said of losing his dear friend. “One thing that I’ve learned in my short or long time on this Earth is that it’s very difficult to have perspective on something while you’re going through it. This is one of the more profound things that I’ve gone through in my life, having to be a part of keeping this project going without this particular person who is like the glue who held it together.”
The filmmaker added, “That said, you have a professional life, you’ve got a personal life. Personal life, I’m going to say that when you work in something that you love, those things blend, they come together. I’m trying to find a work-life balance. But I’m not there yet, so this is without a question the hardest thing I’ve had to do in my professional life.”
Coogler concluded by saying Boseman’s death has inspired him to continue telling the “Black Panther” story because of what Boseman stood for in the pantheon of not only the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but also in Black storytelling.
“This one hurts and stings, but it’s also incredibly motivating,” Coogler said. “I’m incredibly sad to lose him but I’m also incredibly motivated that I got to spend time with him. You spend your life hearing about people like him. For this individual, who is an ancestor now, I was there for it. It’s such an incredible privilege that fills you up as much as it knocks you out. So often as Black people, we have to pick up the pieces after loss.”
Coogler is also an Oscar contender this year for his role as a producer on the film “Judas and the Black Messiah.”