On Friday night, the world was shocked to learn of the death of Chadwick Boseman, who had spent the last four years quietly battling colon cancer. He was only 43. Tributes to the acclaimed actor came pouring in, from fans, from colleagues from Marvel and elsewhere, from musicians and sports figures, stunned at the incalculable loss. One of the most moving of these came from Angela Bassett, who played Ramonda, mother of Boseman’s T’Challa in Black Panther.
“It was meant to be for Chadwick and me to be connected, for us to be family,” the Oscar-nominated actress wrote on her Instagram feed. “But what many don’t know is our story began long before his historic turn as Black Panther.”
Her story went as follows:
“During the premiere party for Black Panther, Chadwick reminded me of something. He whispered that when I received my honorary degree from Howard University, his alma mater, he was the student assigned to escort me that day. And here we were, years later as friends and colleagues, enjoying the most glorious night ever! We’d spent weeks prepping, working, sitting next to each other every morning in makeup chairs, preparing for the day together as mother and son. I am honored that we enjoyed that full circle experience. This young man’s dedication was awe-inspiring, his smile contagious, his talent unreal. So I pay tribute to a beautiful spirit, a consummate artist, a soulful brother…”thou aren’t not dead but flown afar…”. All you possessed, Chadwick, you freely gave. Rest now, sweet prince.” #WakandaForever
Bassett also appeared as Ramonda in Avengers: Endgame. On top of that, she and Boseman both appeared in a 2008 episode of ER — a full six years before his break-out role in the 2014 Jackie Robinson biopic 42.