Nearly a month after his passing due to colorectal cancer, friends, fans and costars continue to share stories of the private yet thoughtful person that Chadwick Boseman was.
One person in particular, Sienna Miller—who starred alongside the beloved entertainer in last year’s cop thriller 21 Bridges—shared how Boseman (who was also a producer on the movie) not only helped her get cast for the role of detective Frankie Burns but also helped get her paid her worth as a woman in Hollywood.
“He produced 21 Bridges and had been really active in trying to get me to do it,” Miller said in an interview for Empire’s tribute cover to the late actor. “He was a fan of my work, which was thrilling, because it was reciprocated from me to him, tenfold. So he approached me to do it. He offered me this film, and it was at a time when I really didn’t want to work anymore. I’d been working nonstop and I was exhausted, but then I wanted to work with him.”
When studios wouldn’t give Miller her asking price, the actress says Boseman did what many people knew him to do: offer himself to lift someone else up.
“This was a pretty big budget film, and I know that everybody understands about the pay disparity in Hollywood, but I asked for a number that the studio wouldn’t get to,” she continued. “And because I was hesitant to go back to work and my daughter was starting school and it was an inconvenient time, I said, ‘I’ll do it if I’m compensated in the right way.’ And Chadwick ended up donating some of his salary to get me to the number that I had asked for. He said that that was what I deserved to be paid.”
It’s hard being a professional actor, let alone a professional Black actor in Hollywood. So for Boseman to do what he did was unprecedented and even unheard of.
“It was about the most astounding thing that I’ve experienced,” Miller shared. “That kind of thing just doesn’t happen.”
“He said, ‘You’re getting paid what you deserve, and what you’re worth.’ It’s just unfathomable to imagine another man in that town behaving that graciously or respectfully. In the aftermath of this, I’ve told other male actor friends of mine that story and they all go very very quiet and go home and probably have to sit and think about things for a while. But there was no showiness. It was, ‘Of course I’ll get you to that number, because that’s what you should be paid.’ “