Octavia Spencer, who starred with Chadwick Boseman in the James Brown biopic Get On Up, shared a tribute to the late Black Panther star after his death on Friday. Spencer referred to the "public scrutiny" Boseman came under in the spring when paparazzi photos showing Boseman looking thinner sparked speculation among fans who had no idea what he was really going through. His family said Boseman was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2016, and it recently progressed to stage IV.
"I have to say this because it's on my heart. We all must do and be better about how we discuss people aesthetically," Spencer wrote on Instagram Sunday, alongside a photo of Boseman. "I remember reading things people were saying about Chadwick’s dramatic weight loss without ever considering his circumstances. Now, my heart is breaking because a young and vital talent has ascended, and I pray he never felt the withering assault of public scrutiny."
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Spencer is praying that Boseman's family "knows" just beloved the star is. "That he was always a perfect gentleman with strong convictions," she continued. "Always gracious. Graceful. Many of us are inconsolable right now, but I’ve put my mother on the case. I’ve prayed and asked her to show him around heaven and to look in on us every once in a while!!"
Spencer's post is referring to speculation from April about Boseman's weight. In mid-April, Boseman shared an Instagram video to announce Operation 42, a program aiming to provide personal protective equipment to hospitals in Black communities. While some fans praised Boseman for his act of generosity, many others noticed that Boseman looked slimmer, notes The Independent. A few days after the video was posted, The Sun published pictures of Boseman running errands. He looked thinner in those pictures as well.
Boseman never commented on the concerns, and he rarely made public appearances in 2020. He was last seen at the 2020 NBA All-Star Game in February. He never publicly discussed his cancer battle either. According to his family, he made several of his most recent films while undergoing surgeries and chemotherapy.
Boseman was best known for his role as Black Panther in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He also played Jackie Robinson in 42 and Thurgood Marshall in Marshall. His last film, a film adaptation of August Wilson's Ma Rainey's Bottom, will be released on Netflix posthumously. He can also be seen in Spike Lee's Da 5 Bloods, released on Netflix earlier this year.