Chadwick Boseman is looking at me with a huge grin on his face.
On the one hand, the “Get on Up” star is no doubt in a great mood after being celebrated by well-wishers for his performance as the legendary James Brown in last summer's well-received biopic. The late love is thanks to Universal Pictures, who has organized a Sunday brunch at SoHo House West Hollywood to help remind voters about Boseman's critically acclaimed portrayal. Director Tate Taylor (“The Help”), producer Brian Grazer and co-star Craig Robinson are all on hand, but Boseman is the center of the attention.
Now back to why he's smiling.
While the 37-year-old actor deserves all the accolades he receives for “Get on Up,” and a Golden Globe nomination in the Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical category seems likely, there are other events in the air that may soon turn him into a household name. Earlier this month, Marvel Studios made the surprise announcement that Boseman would play their signature character Black Panther not only in a solo movie in 2017, but in “Captain America: Civil War” in 2016. In fact, the latter film will be a potential media monster since it also features a major role for Robert Downey Jr. Many have predicted stardom for Boseman since he broke out playing Jackie Robinson in “42” last year, but now it looks like it's really going to happen.
I had asked Boseman how both he and Marvel Studios were able to keep his signing on to the Marvel Universe such a big secret. He'd been rumored for the role like many of his peers who fit the African hero's description, but unlike the studio's numerous leaks regarding “Doctor Strange,” there was barely a peep about Boseman and “Black Panther.” After he tries to carefully to dance around it, it becomes clear that how they keep it a secret will remain a secret itself. He does note that his own camp (manager, friends, etc.) know how to keep quiet over things like this. It's basically a rule they all stand by. As to how the “other side” (Marvel) avoided the leaks? He just keeps smiling.
I also asked him about his reaction to Chris Rock's joke at the Hollywood Film Awards where the comedian advised Boseman, who has now starred as two historical figures in back to back films, to “just say no” to Rosa Parks if they offer it. It got a huge laugh from the audience and Boseman says he had an idea Rock might be up to something. The comedian had previously poked fun at “42” during his opening monologue at the 2014 BET Awards this past summer. Moreover, Boseman went on to physically demonstrate to me how as he was sitting at his table during the show, Rock came by and gave him a huge tap on his shoulders before heading to the stage. Boseman seemed somewhat stunned when the camera cut to him, but it's all part of the learning curve. At least now when Tina Fey and Amy Poehler say something at January's Golden Globes, he'll be ready.
If you're concerned Boseman will be spending most of his time as a superhero the next few years, you needn't worry. He's got a number of new projects on the horizon. He recently wrapped Alex Proyas' “Gods of Egypt” alongside Brenton Thwaites, Gerard Butler and Geoffrey Rush. And he'll begin shooting the indie dramatic thriller “Message from the King” next week.