Tributes are still pouring in for actor Chadwick Boseman who died on Friday of colon cancer at 43. Boseman’s medical condition was not publicly known.
A statement says he was first diagnosed with colon cancer in 2016 and filmed many movies “during and between countless surgeries and chemotherapy.”
“What a gentle gifted soul. Showing us all that greatness between surgeries and chemotherapy. This is what dignity looks like,” wrote TV star and author Oprah Winfrey.
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As scores of celebrities and fans chime in online to honor the Black Panther star, here are seven things to know about the Marvel superhero.
He didn’t have to audition for Black Panther, and made history
When Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige met Boseman in Get On Up, he had no doubts that Chadwick was the right man for the King T’Challa role. “I think it was 24 hours between saying his name in a creative story meeting and talking to his agent and getting on a phone with him and offering him the role of Black Panther, which he accepted,” Kevin said.
For his role in Black Panther, Boseman went on to officially become the first-ever African-American superhero to star in his own standalone feature film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Grossing over $1.3 billion globally, the award-winning Black Panther was also the first film based on a comic book to be nominated for the Oscar Best Picture award.
He was into theater before his acting career began on TV
Chadwick was into theater right from high school. He wrote his first play, Crossroads, which he also performed in. After graduating from Howard University with a bachelor’s degree in directing in 2000, he went on to act in Zooman and the Sign, a play by Pulitzer-winning Charles Fuller, at age 23.
A student of British American Drama Academy in London, Boseman also graduated from New York’s Digital Film Academy before starting his serious acting career in 2008. Ahead of his roles in Black Panther and Avengers, he acted in several TV shows — Law & Order, CSI:NY, ER, Castle, Fridge, and others.
He brought inspirational historical figures to life
After starting his acting career on TV, he gained fame when he landed a leading role in the 2013 critically-acclaimed biographical film 42. Boseman played Major League baseball legend Jackie Robinson, winning several awards for his amazing performance. In 2014, he also played James Brown in Get On Up and then starred in Marshall as Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American Supreme Court justice.
He was into sports
While in school, Boseman played Little League baseball, but “I also played basketball,” he disclosed in an interview with Vanity Fair. “Basketball was my primary sport. When you play basketball seriously, a lot of times, through the summer season, you continue playing. So that replaced me playing baseball. But I’ve always been an athlete and continued do additional athletic activities.”
He was a Southern man who was also amazing behind the camera
Boseman was born in Anderson, South Carolina. Before acting, he directed “Heaven” and “Blood Over a Broken Pawn,” which he also wrote. “Clair Huxtable is my acting mom,” Boseman told The Hollywood Reporter. “The way she taught acting opened up things for me. I would have to take acting classes, but it was purely as director to know what the actors were doing. But when she taught it, it became something where I was like, ‘I want to experience that. I want to know, really, what that feels like.'”
He trained five to eight hours a day for “Get on Up”
While preparing for his role as James Brown in Get On Up, Boseman told ABC News he trained with a choreographer five to eight hours a day. Any time he was on set, he was James Brown, said the film director, Tate Taylor.
“The people around Chad would call him Mr. Brown. When he was picked up in the morning it was, ‘Mr. Brown in the car. Mr. Brown is on-set,'” Taylor said. “He was working so hard, he would make a rare appearance out to dinner, and it would just be odd that Chad was there.”
He kept his personal life as private as possible
Boseman valued his privacy to the extent that his medical condition was not publicly known. He was once asked about his love life, and this was his reply: “It’s no one’s business, really,” he said.
“When you talk about that, you become a whole different type of celebrity. Your personal life bleeds into your professional life. I’m an actor, and you know me from who I play. You get a sense of who I am, but you don’t know everything.”