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First Look of Chadwick Boseman’s Final Performance in ‘Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom’ Released

First Look of Chadwick Boseman’s Final Performance in ‘Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom’ Released

A hero till the end!

First look photos of Chadwick Boseman’s final performance, alongside Viola Davis, in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” have been released, The New York Times reports. 

The new Netflix adaptation of the 1984 August Wilson play, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” is the second from Denzel Washington, having been entrusted by Wilson’s estate to bring the late playwright’s work to the big screen. Washington directed the 2015 adaptation of Wilson’s Fences, which earned Davis a supporting-actress Oscar. He plans to continue reimagining the Pulitzer Prize winner’s iconic plays centering Black life, working next with director Barry Jenkins to bring the 1987 play “The Piano Lesson,” starring his son John David Washington and Samuel Jackson. “The greatest part of what’s left of my career is making sure that August is taken care of,” Washington said.”

Photo Courtesy of David Lee/Netflix

“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” is the full embodiment of that mission, set during the summer of Chicago in 1927, the story centers around a powerhouse recording artist Ma Rainey, played by Viola Davis and her spirited trumpeter, Levee, played by Chadwick Boseman. Rainey is considered the “Mother of the Blues,” but is struggling to record her next hit amidst pressure from white music industry execs. Meanwhile, Levee is working tirelessly to put a modern sound on Rainey’s old fashioned blues, in the hopes that it will launch his own career. Director George C. Wolfe and screenwriter Ruben Santiago-Hudson worked alongside Washington to tell this story, one they said wouldn’t have been complete without the magic of Boseman.

“He did a brilliant job, and he’s gone. I still can’t believe it,” Washington said.

Photo Courtesy of David Lee/Netflix

Boseman passed away on August 28th after a private four year battle with colon cancer. His death has been a crushing blow to Hollywood and a cathartic moment of introspection for his peers, who saw him courageously bring a multitude of iconic heroes to life on screen while silently fighting his own battles. Davis, who initially wasn’t sure that she could fully embody the role of “Ma Rainey” said Boseman was a class act and despite his success, brought Levee to life in the most humblest of ways.

“A lot of actors mistake their presence for the event. An actor of Chadwick’s status usually comes on and it’s their ego who comes on before them: This is what they want, this is what they’re not going to do. That was absolutely, 150 percent off the table with Chadwick. He would completely discard whatever ego he had, whatever vanity he had, and welcome Levee in,” Davis said.

Apparently no one outside of close family knew of Boseman’s illness and many, including Davis, remarked of how beautiful it was in hindsight to see his team come in day after day and care for him, giving massages, meditating with him, and loving him to optimal health so he could give his all on set.

 

Photo Courtesy of David Lee/Netflix

The team was also there during Boseman’s filming of Levee, a musician with “thwarted ambitions,” and while his final role shares similarities with his actual life, Davis encourages fans to focus more on those sustaining “cultural truths” told by Boseman in the film. She believes that what’s so impermanent about Wilson’s work is its ability to relate to everyday Black people, showing them in all their truth and glory.

“I think a lot of times, people look at someone’s life backwards. Now we have the unfortunate knowledge that Chadwick succumbed to cancer at 43, but really, Levee represents so many Black men living in America. What we’re constantly navigating on a day-to-day basis is the trauma of our past - we’re trying to heal from it, we’re even trying to understand that it’s there, and we’re negotiating that with our dreams and who we want to become...Now we know that the role mirrors Chadwick’s life, but if that were omitted, it still mirrors his life in a way...because it mirrors the life of every Black person grieving, and especially the life of a Black man,” Davis said.

 

Photo Courtesy of David Lee/Netflix

“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” will be available on Netflix on December 18th.

Thank you for giving us your all Chadwick. You are deeply missed.

Photo Courtesy of David Lee/Netflix