Few films have had bigger shoes to fill than “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” which was tasked with carrying on the Marvel franchise after the tragic death of its star, Chadwick Boseman. Ryan Coogler and his team ultimately opted not to fill those shoes at all, relying on the original film’s supporting cast to step up and carry the sequel as an ensemble. But Boseman’s shadow still loomed large over every aspect of the production.
In a new Ebony cover story, the film’s cast opened up about their grief for Boseman and the many small ways they tried to honor his legacy while filming the Wakanda-set sequel.
“We invoked [Chadwick’s] spirit on a daily basis. All of us found a way to pay tribute to him in different ways,” said Lupita Nyong’o, who reprises her role as Nakia in the film. “The line producer proposed not having a No. 1 person on the call sheet, and so there was no No. 1. And we started with the No. 2 onwards, and when Ryan told me that I just wept, because everybody just wanted to carry him with us.”
While the film’s returning cast members had formed close relationships with Boseman while he was alive, many of the newcomers never had the chance to meet the late star. In order to ensure that everyone understood the magnitude of his impact on the franchise, the entire cast visited Boseman’s grave before they began filming.
“We visited his resting place before we started filming and we had that moment as a cast,” Nyong’o said. “We went with the new cast who hadn’t met him as well. It was our way of continuing this journey. It really doesn’t feel like we have anything to prove to his spirit. I feel very, very centered about how we brought him along with us. Ryan had an artist make this necklace that has Chadwick’s image on it and he wore it every day. So he’s been with us, he knows what we did. He inspired what we did. We honored him unabashedly and unapologetically.”
“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” opens in theaters Friday, November 11.