On Aug. 28 2020, shocking news rocked the entertainment world and movie business when it was announced that Chadwick Boseman had died from a private battle with colon cancer. Boseman was 43 at the time of his death and had been going through ongoing treatment for his condition for several years, unbeknownst to the public.
In his earlier years, Boseman had long term aspirations of writing and directing, and initially studied acting so he could learn to relate to actors better. After starting his career with smaller roles in TV, Boseman transitioned into film roles after a stint directing off-Broadway plays. Boseman became one of the most versatile and prolific actors of his generation, starring in everything from blockbuster films to historic biopics.
Today, as fans mourn his untimely death, take a look at some of his most iconic roles.
Chadwick Boseman played Jackie Robinson in ’42’
Boseman’s breakout role came in 2013 when he was cast to play Jackie Robinson in the historical biopic 42. Although he had primarily worked in television and theater up until his selection for the role, 42’s director, Brian Helgeland saw the immense potential in him and loved his bravery during his audition.
According to the Washington Post, Helgeland was quoted as saying: He [Boseman] came in and said, ‘You’re either going to like me or not. And we’re going to know in five minutes’.” He continued, “He had to play one of the bravest men who ever lived, so I thought that he came in brave was a great indication.”
Boseman’s confidence earned him the role, in which he portrayed the first Black American to play in the integrated MLB.
He portrayed James Brown in ‘Get on Up’
After starring in 42, Boseman took on another biopic role in 2014, this time playing James Brown in Get On Up. Directed by Tate Taylor, the film jumped around various parts of James Brown’s life, chronicling the icon’s childhood, his days as a delinquent, and his rise to fame.
Once again, after Boseman was cast, a member of the production spoke highly of Boseman’s ability to craft a believable rendition of a historical figure.
He’s a hard worker, and an artist,” Boseman’s co-star, Octavia Spencer told The Daily Beast. “The success of the film begins and ends with Chadwick’s believability as James Brown, and he really pulls it off.”
Get On Up was met with critical acclaim and currently has an approval rating of 79% on Rotten Tomatoes.
The versatile actor also played Thurgood Marshall in ‘Marshall’
Although the role received significantly less attention than his others, Boseman also played lawyer and civil rights activist Thurgood Marshall. Despite only receiving a $10 million production budget, the film was well-received by critics and has an approval rating of 80% on Rotten Tomatoes.
He made history with Marvel’s ‘Black Panther’
In unquestionably his largest role, Boseman was cast as the lead in Marvel’s record-breaking blockbuster hit, Black Panther. Released in 2018, Boseman starred in the film as T’Challa, a Wakandan warrior that utilized superior combat skills, technology, and a mystical metal called Vibranium to protect his nation.
Black Panther was a critical and commercial success, grossing over $1 billion at the box office and earning several academy awards. It was the firm Marvel film to feature a predominantly Black cast and became one of the biggest films of the year.
Boseman was an enormous talent with a ton of potential that fans, unfortunately, will be unable to see fulfilled. However, his incredible performances and legacy will continue to live on.