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Cori Murray
Oct, 27, 2017

Known for tackling larger-than-life men on-screen, Chadwick Boseman paused before signing on as the first Black Supreme Court justice in the legal thriller Marshall (in theaters now). Here, Boseman on why he said yes.

1.The actor didn’t want another biopic to his credit. “I was looking for a different type of movie, and I didn’t think I looked like him,” he says. “But then [director] Reginald Hudlin sold me on the fact that we’d be doing a courtroom drama...in a way that had mystery and suspense.”

2. Boseman and Marshall both attended Howard University: “I knew what that place smelled like, what it felt like, so there’s a certain understanding of who I thought he was just from that.”

3. Marshall’s real-life friends were squad goals. There’s a notable, albeit brief, scene with Marshall, his wife (Keesha Sharp), Langston Hughes (Jussie Smollett) and Zora Neale Hurston (Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas), but it almost didn’t make the movie. “Reginald had to fight for it because, in terms of a story point, it isn’t necessary,” says Boseman. “But you have to see that this man didn’t have to do what he was doing. He didn’t have to leave this sort of Black utopia. He didn’t have to put his life on the line [for us].” 

This feature originally appeared in the Novemeber 2017 Issue of ESSENCE Magazine.