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'He was an epic firework display': Black Panther director pens emotional tribute to Chadwick Boseman

Boseman’s family announced his death in a statement on Saturday.

Chadwick Boseman and Ryan Coogler
Chadwick Boseman and Ryan Coogler
Image: Ik Aldama/DPA/PA Images

BLACK PANTHER DIRECTOR Ryan Coogler has penned a long and emotional tribute to the film’s star Chadwick Boseman. 

“Chad was an anomaly. He was calm. Assured. Constantly studying,” Coogler wrote. 

A statement released by family on Saturday confirmed that Boseman had died aged 43 following a battle with cancer. 

Boseman’s family said he had been diagnosed with colon cancer four years ago and died surrounded by his loved ones, including wife Taylor Simone Ledward.

He never discussed the illness publicly and films including Black Panther, Da 5 Bloods and Avengers: Endgame were all filmed “during and between countless surgeries and chemotherapy,” the family said.

Tributes to Boseman have since poured in from across a reeling Hollywood.

In a tribute published yesterday, Black Panther Director Ryan Coogler said he “hasn’t grieved a loss this acute before”. 

Coogler said Boseman was an “epic firework display”.

Speaking of their first meeting, the director said Boseman had “the warmest laugh in the world, and eyes that seen much beyond his years, but could still sparkle like a child seeing something for the first time”.

Coogler wrote that “Chad deeply valued his privacy” and that he “wasn’t privy to the details of his illness”. 

“After his family released their statement, I realized that he was living with his illness the entire time I knew him,” he wrote. 

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 said “it hurts more to know that we can’t have another conversation, or FaceTime, or text message exchange”. 

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“[Boseman] would send vegetarian recipes and eating regimens for my family and me to follow during the pandemic.  He would check in on me and my loved ones, even as he dealt with the scourge of cancer,” Coogler said. 

The final paragraph of the director’s powerful tribute reads: 

In African cultures we often refer to loved ones that have passed on as ancestors. Sometimes you are genetically related. Sometimes you are not. I had the privilege of directing scenes of Chad’s character, T’Challa, communicating with the ancestors of Wakanda. We were in Atlanta, in an abandoned warehouse, with bluescreens, and massive movie lights, but Chad’s performance made it feel real. I think it was because from the time that I met him, the ancestors spoke through him. It’s no secret to me now how he was able to skillfully portray some of our most notable ones. I had no doubt that he would live on and continue to bless us with more. But 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. And I know that he will watch over us, until we meet again.

Ryan Coogler’s tribute can be read in full here

With reporting by Press Association

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