Viola Davis Recalls What It Was Like to Work With "Great Artist" Chadwick Boseman

Elyse Dupre
·2 min read

Viola Davis is remembering Chadwick Boseman in a unique way not everyone can.

Before his death, Boseman acted alongside Davis in the movie Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, which is set to be released on Netflix Dec. 18. This wasn't the first time the stars had worked together. They also both appeared in the 2014 film Get on Up about James Brown. Ahead of their final project's debut, the 55-year-old actress recalled working with the late actor for InStyle's December cover story.

"He was a beautiful man and a great artist," Davis recalled about Boseman. "It's like what Issa Rae said: He was ours as African-Americans. He was someone who had a quality that very few have today, whether young or old, which is a total commitment to the art form of acting. Regardless of ego, regardless of any of it. He was with the same agent he had when he started his career."

Davis remembered how Boseman "absolutely did not want celebrity treatment" on the set. "He hated that," she added. "He really did. We actually had a little discussion about that. He said, 'Viola, I don't mind the work. I don't mind all the hours. It's the other stuff that exhausts me.' He hated the celebrity part. I have to say, we all do. Because we have to be a persona that we just don't know."

Chadwick Boseman's Best Roles

Boseman passed away in August following his private battle with colon cancer. He was 43 years old. A statement posted to his social media accounts shared he died in his home with his wife, Simone Ledward, and his family by his side.

"Chadwick was diagnosed with stage III colon cancer in 2016, and battled with it these last 4 years as it progressed to stage IV," the statement read. "A true fighter, Chadwick persevered through it all, and brought you many of the films you have come to love so much. From Marshall to Da 5 Bloods, August Wilson's Ma Rainey's Black Bottom and several more, all were filmed during and between countless surgeries and chemotherapy."

Viola Davis, Chadwick Boseman
Viola Davis, Chadwick Boseman

In addition, the statement noted, "It was the honor of his career to bring King T'Challa to life in Black Panther."

After news of Boseman's death broke, several stars, including Davis, took to social media to pay tribute. "Chadwick.....no words to express my devastation of losing you," she tweeted at the time. "Your talent, your spirit, your heart, your authenticity........It was an honor working beside you, getting to know you....Rest well prince...May flights of angels sing thee to thy heavenly rest. I love you!"

Fans can read the rest of Davis' interview by obtaining the December issue of InStyle, available on newsstands, on Amazon, and for digital download Nov. 20.