Viola Davis pays tribute to Chadwick Boseman: “He lived right”

"If there's one thing that we have taken away from this time with COVID is all we have is the now"

Viola Davis has paid tribute to the late Chadwick Boseman, saying that “he lived in the moment”.

The Black Panther actor died in August at the age of 43 following a four-year battle against colon cancer.

Speaking at a recent cast panel, Davis discussed Boseman’s final film role in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. The movie, which arrives on Netflix next month (December 18), sees Boseman play a jazz trumpeter who questions God’s plan following a life of hardship.

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“I mean, there is no questioning God’s will, but here’s the thing I will say about Chadwick is he lived right,” Davis said. “Come on, meaning that he lived in the moment so all of his choices had to deal with legacy, because if there’s one thing that we have taken away from this time with COVID is all we have is the now, that’s all we have.

Chadwick Boseman
Chadwick Boseman (Picture: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images)

She added: “So we can embrace – and you all know that people mix business discussions with artistic discussions all the time, they’re talking about the business when they think they’re talking about the art, but they talk about the business. We have a lot of frauds in our business, people coming out of nowhere, you know taking the bus from wherever having never done anything and they want to be Meryl Streep in two seconds.

“But [Boseman] is a man who was an artist. An artist meaning you have to let go of your ego, your vanity, you can’t mistake your presence for the event. That you have to tap into a wellspring of pain, trauma, joy, all of that, and use that as fuel with your work and that’s all you have in the end is your integrity.

“He was just one of those and you’re a diamond in the rough in the business. You can have a 50, 60-year career and never work with a Chadwick Boseman.”

Samuel L. Jackson, who also appears in the film, added of Boseman: “What do we think God’s plan was for taking this brilliant young man away from us, and this particular moment and this being the last thing we’re gonna see him do in terms of performance?”

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Last week, Marvel revealed that it will not use a digital body double for Chadwick Boseman in the sequel to 2018’s Black Panther.

Marvel Studios executive vice president Victoria Alonso said: “There’s only one Chadwick, and he’s not with us.

“Our king, unfortunately, has died in real life, not just in fiction, and we are taking a little time to see how we return to history and what we do to honour this chapter of what has happened to us that was so unexpected, so painful, so terrible, really.”

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