In a tribute fit for a king, Ryan Coogler wrote a heartfelt letter about Chadwick Boseman following the actor’s death from colon cancer on Friday at age 43.
The Black Panther director described his close friend as a “leader” who was “kind and comforting,” in the letter published by Marvel.
Coogler said Boseman was already attached to the superhero film when he signed on to direct it.
“I inherited Marvel and the Russo Brothers’ casting choice of T’Challa,” he explained of their partnership. “It is something that I will forever be grateful for. The first time I saw Chad’s performance as T’Challa, it was in an unfinished cut of Captain America: Civil War. I was deciding whether or not directing Black Panther was the right choice for me.”
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Still, the two became good friends.
“I noticed then that Chad was an anomaly,” Coogler recalled of his first meeting with the actor. “He was calm. Assured. Constantly studying. But also kind, comforting, had the warmest laugh in the world, and eyes that had seen much beyond his years, but could still sparkle like a child seeing something for the first time.”
Boseman battled colon cancer for four years, his family revealed Friday. Coogler shared that he was shocked by his friend’s death.
“Chad deeply valued his privacy, and I wasn’t privy to the details of his illness,” he said. “After his family released their statement, I realized that he was living with his illness the entire time I knew him.”
He continued, “Because he was a caretaker, a leader, and a man of faith, dignity and pride, he shielded his collaborators from his suffering. He lived a beautiful life. And he made great art. Day after day, year after year. That was who he was. He was an epic firework display. 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.”
Coogler also shared that Boseman would check on him and his family during the pandemic to make sure they were doing well. He ended by explaining how in African cultures they refer to loved ones that have passed as ancestors, and that has taken on a whole new meaning for him with Boseman’s death.
“It is with a heavy heart and a sense of deep gratitude to have ever been in his presence, that I have to reckon with the fact that Chad is an ancestor now,” he shared. “And I know that he will watch over us, until we meet again.”