The news that Chadwick Boseman was diagnosed with cancer in 2016 has cast the actor's career in a whole new light. Boseman, who died Friday at age 43, battled the illness for much of the time he was bringing the iconic character T'Challa/Black Panther to life, knowledge that reframes several moments from the last few years. (See EW's special tribute cover featuring Boseman.)
With that in mind, the video above, in which Boseman discusses trading letters with kids with terminal cancer in the leadup to Black Panther's release, becomes almost unbearably poignant. In the clip, from February 2018 — at the time he was fighting his own private battle with cancer — Boseman breaks down while discussing two kids who died of the illness before getting to see the movie.
"There are two little kids, Ian and Taylor, who recently passed from cancer, and throughout our filming, I was communicating with them, knowing that they were both terminal," Boseman says. "And their parents said, 'They're trying to hold on until this movie comes.'...It's a humbling experience, because you're like, 'This can't mean that much to them.' But seeing how the world has taken this on, how it's taken on a life of its own, I realize that they anticipated something great."
"I think back now to [being] a kid, and waiting for Christmas to come, waiting for my birthday to come, waiting for a toy that I was gonna get a chance to experience, or a video game, I did live life waiting for those moments," he continues. "And so it put me back in the mind of being a kid, just to experience those two little boys' anticipation of this movie."
At this point, Boseman breaks down and is unable to continue, beginning to cry before adding, "Yeah. It means a lot."
Boseman was diagnosed with stage III colon cancer in 2016 and quietly battled it for years as it progressed to stage IV. As his family revealed in a statement posted to Twitter, "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."
"It was the honor of his career to bring King T'Challa to life in Black Panther," they added.