In 2018, Chadwick Boseman was battling cancer himself, a revelation that only came to light on Friday when his family announced his death at age 43. The news brought a whole new meaning to one of the many interviews he gave that year to promote Black Panther when he told a heartbreaking story about how he spoke with two young cancer patients who wanted to "hold on" just to see the movie. Boseman was diagnosed with stage III colon cancer in 2016, and it recently worsened to stage IV, his family said.
While on SiriusXM with his Black Panther co-stars, Boseman opened up about Ian and Taylor, two children who died from cancer. Boseman spoke with them while making Black Panther because he knew they were terminal. Ian and Taylor's parents told him they were trying to "hold on until" the movie came out. "It’s a humbling experience because you’re like, ‘This can’t mean that much to them,’ you know?" Boseman explained. "But seeing how the world has taken us on, seeing how the movement has taken on a life of its own, I realized that they anticipated something great."
Boseman understood what it was like waiting for a special moment, like getting a Christmas gift or a new video game. With that in mind, Boseman put himself back in the position of a child. "Just to experience those two little boys' anticipation of this movie, and when I found out that they..." At that moment, Boseman paused to compose himself as tears came from his eyes. "Yeah, it means a lot," he said.
Boseman's 2018 press tour for Black Panther was filled with emotional moments, as the actor frequently discussed the importance of bringing a Black superhero to life in an environment where there are not many. "It's important because I didn't have this growing up," Boseman said when on Good Morning America in February 2018. "I'm still a kid, you know, there's a kid in each one of us and so I just know what it's going to mean to you when you see it that it can give you a certain type of confidence when you walk through the world. It also makes people that look like you see you in a different light and not judge you in a particular way."
Boseman died on Friday night at 43. His family said many of his most recent films, including Marshall, Spike Lee's Da 5 Bloods, and the upcoming Netflix adaptation of August Wilson's Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, were all filmed while Boseman underwent "countless surgeries and chemotherapy." They said playing King T'Challa in Black Panther was "the honor of his career." He died with his family and wife Taylor Simone Ledward by his side.