I wanted to wait for a word from the man who directed the King before posting anything here. Well, Ryan Coogler has said a word, and it is expectedly and exceptionally moving.
“I haven’t grieved a loss this acute before. I spent the last year preparing, imagining and writing words for him to say, that we weren’t destined to see. It leaves me broken knowing that I won’t be able to watch another close-up of him in the monitor again or walk up to him and ask for another take.
It hurts more to know that we can’t have another conversation, or facetime, or text message exchange. He would send vegetarian recipes and eating regimens for my family and me to follow during the pandemic. He would check in on me and my loved ones, even as he dealt with the scourge of cancer.”
I have lost family to cancer, in childhood and most recently this year. I have felt and seen the toll that it takes on the individual and on the family. It is remarkable to me that Chadwick was able to square up against this disease, and convincingly live and work and do red carpets and interviews and visit children battling cancer and send Ryan Coogler and his family recipes to help them. He’s been living with this since 2016 (shortly after first putting on the Black Panther suit for Civil War) while giving us T’Challa in Black Panther and Infinity War and Endgame, and performances in other films like Da 5 Bloods which I’ve written about on here before (singling out his performance) and Message from the King, a taut action flick elevated by his presence, which I watched this past weekend. A remarkable man and an actor who has left an impressive body of work in a short time (playing remarkable figures like Jackie Robinson, James Brown, Thurgood Marshall, and a super hero for Black people everywhere), especially when we consider the circumstances under which many of these iconic performances were created.