The death of Chadwick Boseman hit a lot of people hard, including millions who only knew him from the characters he played on the screen. But Denzel Washington knew Chadwick Boseman personally and ended up being instrumental in the Black Panther's career. Recently, the Oscar winner spoke about Chadwick Boseman and he recalled when he first saw Black Panther and the emotional reaction he had to the movie.
Speaking at an informal event as part of the virtual Toronto International Film Festival (via THR), Denzel Washington said that seeing Black Panther made him realize that a new generation of black creators, like Chadwick Boseman and director Ryan Coogler had "taken over" Hollywood. According to Washington...
I went backstage and I saw Chad and I saw Ryan Coogler, and then I watched the movie and I remember shedding a tear, because I thought, man, these young guys are gone. Like they'd taken over.
Denzel Washington certainly wasn't the only person to shed a tear watching Black Panther for the first time. The movie was a massive box office hit largely because it impacted so many people so strongly. It was the first time we'd seen a Black superhero lead a nearly all-black cast in a movie that was given the same effort, the same budget, and the same promotion that so many other popular superhero movies had been given. That in itself was already a big deal. Then Black Panther went and was also a simply phenomenal film.
Of course, for Denzel Washington, the connection was a bit more personal. The story has been told that Denzel Washington, once upon a time, anonymously sponsored Chadwick Boseman's tuition into an acting program, a move that may very well have been necessary to get the actor into the place to become Black Panther at all. What Denzel Washington saw on the screen was the successful result of the decision he had made.
And Denzel Washington also knew that the admiration went both ways. When the American Film Institute honored Denzel last year, Chadwick Boseman spoke about how the actor had paved the way for him and so many other Black actors. Check out Boseman's speech in the clip below.
Denzel Washington says that Chadwick Boseman led a full life and he was not cheated by dying so young, but the rest of us were. Those knew him lost a friend and a family member. Those that were simply fans lost the opportunity to see the great work that he would have done in the future. It's difficult to argue with that perspective. We'll never know what we have missed out on, but considering the great work that we did see, it almost certainly would have been special.