Ryan Coolger is hard at work on the ‘Black Panther’ sequel and says that it’s something he knows Chadwick Boseman would want.
Though Boseman made the role of Black Panther unequivocally his after the groundbreaking 2018 Marvel movie by the same name, director Coogler is still working on a sequel months after Boseman’s died last August. He was 43.
Coogler was working on the script at the time, and he’s now restructuring it in light of Boseman’s death. Marvel previously announced the role would not be recast and the sequel would instead focus on the fictional world of Wakanda.
“It’s difficult,” Coogler told The Hollywood Reporter of working on the sequel without his close friend. “You’ve got to keep going when you lose loved ones. I know Chad wouldn’t have wanted us to stop. He was somebody who was so about the collective. Black Panther, that was his movie. He was hired to play that role before anybody else was even thought of, before I was hired, before any of the actresses were hired.”
“On that set, he was all about everybody else,” Coogler continued. “Even though he was going through what he was going through, he was checking in on them, making sure they were good. If we cut his coverage, he would stick around and read lines off camera [to help other actors with their performances]. So it would be harder for me to stop. Truthfully. I’d feel him yelling at me, like, ‘What are you doing?’ So you keep going.”
Boseman died after a private four-year battle with colon cancer. Like most people, Coogler didn’t know Boseman was sick and his death took him by surprise. He admitted he still misses Boseman intensely.
“I didn’t know what was going on,” Coogler said. “I knew what he wanted me to know. I miss him in every way that you could miss somebody, as a friend, as a collaborator. And it sucks because I love watching movies, and I don’t get to watch the next thing he would have made. So it’s grief on a lot of levels, but then, it’s a deep sense of gratitude because I can close my eyes and hear his voice.”
Executive producer Victoria Alonso previously told the Argentine newspaper Clarín (in an interview translated by Deadline) that the filmmakers are still taking some time to figure out how to honor the late actor in Black Panther 2 — but they don’t plan on using a digital replacement of Boseman in the sequel.
“There’s only one Chadwick, and he’s no longer with us,” she said. “Sadly, our king has died in real life, not only in fiction, and we’re taking a little time to see how we continue the story and how to honor this chapter of what has unexpectedly happened to us, so painful and terrible to be honest.”
“Chadwick wasn’t only a wonderful human being, every day of the 5 years we spent together, but also, I believe, that what he did as a character elevated us as a company, and has left his moment on history,” she added.
Boseman’s final role came in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, the Netflix film that has been earning him posthumous praise. The late actor was nominated for the Best Actor Oscar for his performance and has already been awarded several trophies in the lead up to the big ceremony, including a Golden Globe Award.
There’s no way we’re going to make it through ‘Black Panther 2’ without crying. You probably won’t either.