Chadwick Boseman kept his cancer diagnosis secret from just about everyone, including Black Panther director Ryan Coogler. On Sunday, Coogler wrote a lengthy tribute to Boseman, which was published by The Hollywood Reporter. It revealed that Boseman never even told Coogler what he was going through.
"Chad deeply valued his privacy, and I wasn't privy to the details of his illness," Coogler admitted on Sunday. "After his family released their statement, I realized that he was living with his illness the entire time I knew him." Many fans, friends and colleagues have shared similar sentiments this weekend as news of Boseman's passing spread. The 43-year-old actor had been battling colon cancer since at least 2016 and had done it all away from the public eye.
Aside from this revelation, Coogler's tribute to Boseman was reflective, including tidbits about his meeting with the actor, his first impressions and how their relationship developed. He is often considered the brilliant architect of the MCU's version of Black Panther. Still, he started by pointing out that he "inherited Marvel and the Russo Brothers' casting choice of T'Challa" and did not choose Boseman himself.
This inheritance actually helped convince Coogler that it was "the right choice" for him to accept the job directing Black Panther, he revealed. "I'll never forget, sitting in an editorial suite on the Disney Lot and watching [Boseman's] scenes," he wrote. "It was at that moment I knew I wanted to make this movie."
Of his first real meeting with Boseman, Coogler wrote: "I noticed then that Chad was an anomaly. He was calm. Assured. Constantly studying. But also kind, comforting, had the warmest laugh in the world, and eyes that seen much beyond his years, but could still sparkle like a child seeing something for the first time."
Coogler went on to share stories and impressions of Boseman from both within and outside of the Marvel Cinematic Universe over the last few years. He praised the man's character and his way with other people in any social setting. He concluded by framing his grief for Boseman in the context of their research into African culture and African mythology for Black Panther, particularly the practice of communing with ancestors.
"It's no secret to me now how he was able to skillfully portray some of our most notable ones. I had no doubt that he would live on and continue to bless us with more. But it is with a heavy heart and a sense of deep gratitude to have ever been in his presence, that I have to reckon with the fact that Chad is an ancestor now. And I know that he will watch over us, until we meet again," he finished.