The world lost a superhero when Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman passed away at age 43 after a private, four year battle with colon cancer.
He first wowed us in roles such as Jackie Robinson, James Brown, Thurgood Marshall, solidifying his God-given talent as one of the best actors in Hollywood. But Boseman became a king — our hero— as Wakanda’s King T’Challa. And while the world is reeling from the death of our hero, the Black Panther cast is grappling with the loss of a colleague, mentor, collaborator, and most importantly — a friend.
Black Panther director and cowriter Ryan Coogler paid tribute to Boseman in a lengthy statement on August 30. Coogler remembered meeting his future star in person in early 2016 at a press junket. “I noticed then that Chad was an anomaly,” he wrote. “He was calm. Assured. Constantly studying. But also kind, comforting, 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.”
“This hurts. Really hurts,” Boseman’s Black Panther sister and costar, Leticia Wright tweeted.
“I don’t have words,” Sterling K. Brown shared on Twitter. “Rest In Peace, Bruh. Thank you for all you did while you were here. Thank you for being a friend. You are loved. You will be missed.
In the ABC special, Chadwick Boseman: Tribute to a King, hosted by cancer survivor Robin Roberts, Winston Duke shared his thoughts. “You are the last person who I thought would leave us so soon,” he said. “You were not just my friend, you’re just not my hero, you were my superhero. You were my Black Panther.”
Angela Bassett eloquently stated, “It was meant to be for Chadwick and me to be connected, for us to be family.”
“But what many don’t know is our story began long before his historic turn as Black Panther,” the American Horror Story alum posted via Instagram. “During the premiere party for Black Panther, Chadwick reminded me of something. He whispered that when I received my honorary degree from Howard University, his alma mater, he was the student assigned to escort me that day. And here we were, years later as friends and colleagues, enjoying the most glorious night ever! We’d spent weeks prepping, working, sitting next to each other every morning in makeup chairs, preparing for the day together as mother and son.”
“I’d see Chad everyday, he’d go out of his way to ask me, w/ a smile “what magical place did you make for me today?” said Black Panther production designer Hannah Beachler, who won an Academy Award for her work on the film. “He was always uplifting us, he was our king for that year. When I’d see him at events he’d ask, ‘They taken care of you Sis?'”
“How do you honor a king? Reeling from the loss of my colleague, my friend, my brother,” Gurira wrote.
“Struggling for words. Nothing feels adequate. I always marveled at how special Chadwick was. Such a pure hearted, profoundly generous, regal, fun guy. My entire job as Okoye was to respect and protect a king. Honor his leadership. Chadwick made that job profoundly easy. He was the epitome of kindness, elegance, diligence and grace. On many an occasion I would think how thankful I was that he was the leading man I was working closely with. A true class act. And so perfectly equipped to take on the responsibility of leading the franchise that changed everything for Black representation.”
“Lala Ngoxolo Kumkani,” she concluded, using a Xhosa phrase that means “rest in peace.”