EW Chadwick Boseman

EW Chadwick Boseman

Before he elevated Black Panther into an inspirational and internationally beloved big screen superstar, Chadwick Boseman had long been delivering roles defined by passion and intensity, including starring turns as James Brown, Thurgood Marshall, and Jackie Robinson in 42, which thrust him into leading-man status in 2013. Then, in 2016 when he took on the role of T’Challa/The Black Panther in Captain America: Civil War in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and in 2018 when he headlined the blockbuster film Black Panther his popularity exploded. Black Panther would go on to become one of the highest-grossing films of all time and the only comic-book movie nominated for a Best Picture Academy Award. It inspired and excited children around the world, shattering stereotypes who a superhero could be. This commemorative edition from Entertainment Weekly celebrates the life and career of Boseman, looking back at his major roles through photos and essays, with remembrances from co-stars and colleagues, the legacy of Black Panther, and much more, this is a tribute to an enormous talent gone too soon.

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en este número

11 min.
a true superhero

AUTUMN 2011: CHADWICK BOSEMAN, THEN A LITTLE-KNOWN 35-YEAR-old actor, walked into Jackie Robinson Stadium at UCLA, where, as part of a film audition, he would need to show off enough athleticism to convincingly portray the baseball great for whom the arena was named. At the time, Boseman had only one movie credit to his name, and his Little League days in South Carolina were a ways back. Sure, a moonshot home run could be added to the movie digitally, but it would be up to Boseman to bring to believable life this revered sports and civil rights hero: the first Black man to play in modern Major League Baseball. If the actor, angling for his debut leading role, wasn’t nervous enough, the filmmakers made sure to remind him of all…

4 min.
out of the park

Throughout this tribute issue are stories from the Entertainment Weekly archive that trace the arc of Boseman’s career. We are presenting them as they appeared in the moment. Rottenberg’s piece about 42 ran in EW in spring 2013 AS A KID GROWING UP IN SOUTH Carolina, Chadwick Boseman spent some time playing Little League, but he has never been what you’d call a baseball fanatic; basketball has always been more his speed. “Baseball is not a sport I run home to watch,” he says, drinking a cup of tea on a warm March afternoon. “That’s not me.” For the 36-year-old actor to play any professional baseball player in his first big-screen starring role, then, would have been a major challenge. But in the film 42, Boseman doesn’t take on just any…

3 min.
the godfather of soul

IT FELT LIKE ONE OF THOSE ROLES that nobody should try—ever,” said Chadwick Boseman of portraying James Brown. So when the script for Get On Up, a biopic about the R&B pioneer, made its way around Hollywood, Boseman was not among those campaigning for the lead. “I was like, ‘No, I’m not going to even read it,’” said the actor to EW in 2014. “Nope, I’m not doing that.” But a sibling’s dare shifted his thinking. “My older brother, who’s a minister, said, ‘Man, if you pull that off, you’ll be one of the greatest actors of all time,’” he recalled. “Then it became a challenge.” After an initial audition proved promising, the filmmakers—including director Tate Taylor (The Help) and producer Mick Jagger—arranged for step two: dancing as only Brown…

3 min.
legal lion

SOON AFTER PLAYING JACKIE Robinson and James Brown, Chadwick Boseman was asked to take on yet another giant figure, this time the first African-American Supreme Court justice, Thurgood Marshall. The actor nearly passed on the offer. “I was looking for a different type of movie, and I didn’t think I looked like him,” Boseman told Essence in 2017. But an unexpected appeal from a notable name made him reconsider. “It literally took John Marshall, his son, writing a letter that opened my eyes to the fact that there may be some other things that are important. As an artist you have to be open to what’s calling you.” Boseman was further convinced by the script’s novel approach to the story—which zeroed in on Marshall’s early career as an NAACP attorney during…

11 min.
from actor to star

After gaining notice in 42 and Get On Up, Chadwick Boseman landed what would become the defining part of his career: The Marvel superhero known as Black Panther, who would first appear in Captain America: Civil War, alongside Chris Evans in the title role and the full Avengers lineup including Robert Downey Jr. and Scarlett Johansson. Following that, he would carry the lead in a solo Black Panther film. “Boseman is well aware of the responsibility that comes with great power. He’s been working for this opportunity for years, and he’s not about to waste it,” wrote EW’s Jeff Labrecque, who spoke with Boseman in 2014, shortly after the life-changing announcement. What was the movie or play that you saw as a kid in Anderson, S.C., that made you want to…

6 min.
who is that cat?

Fifty years after Black Panther’s comic book debut, the Wakandan hero hit screens in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War. Writer Anthony Breznican introduced T’Challa to EW readers in advance of the film’s opening. Boseman told him he knew the role was a big deal from the day he showed up on-set in the sleek costume. “It was inspiring seeing people’s responses to it, because they’re so excited for the character.” IN THE WILD, BLACK PANTHERS ARE CREATURES OF SHADOW. FIERCELY intelligent. Agile. Stealthy. Their onyx coloring gives them an evolutionary advantage, helpful in dense jungle terrain where the light is dim and the night can render them all but invisible. In other words, the spotlight is not their natural habitat. But that’s exactly where the Marvel superhero named after these sleek…