'Chad Is An Ancestor Now,' Ryan Coogler Writes in His Tribute to Chadwick Boseman

Hilary Weaver
·3 mins read
Photo credit: Anadolu Agency - Getty Images
Photo credit: Anadolu Agency - Getty Images

From ELLE

Black Panther director and cowriter Ryan Coogler wrote a tribute to his friend and his film's star, Chadwick Boseman died on Friday from colon cancer. Coogler wrote a tribute, via Deadline, to Boseman, in which he shared his memories of the late actor.

At the end of his tribute, Coogler shares some insight into how he is grieving right now. "In African cultures we often refer to loved ones that have passed on as ancestors," he wrote. "Sometimes you are genetically related." He added that when he watched Boseman, as King T'Challa, communicating with his ancestors during the film's filming, "Chad's performance made it feel real. I think it was because from the time that I met him, the ancestors spoke through him. It's no secret to me now how he was able to skillfully portray some of our most notable ones. I had no doubt that he would live on and continue to bless us with more. But it is with a heavy heart and a sense of deep gratitude to have ever been in his presence, that I have to reckon with the fact that Chad is an ancestor now. And I know that he will watch over us, until we meet again."

Here is part of what Coogler wrote to honor Boseman, whom he met in 2016, after he had signed on to direct Black Panther:

"Before sharing my thoughts on the passing of the great Chadwick Boseman, I first offer my condolences to his family who meant so very much to him. To his wife, Simone, especially...I finally met Chad in person in early 2016, once I signed onto the film. He snuck past journalists that were congregated for a press junket I was doing for Creed, and met with me in the green room. We talked about our lives, my time playing football in college, and his time at Howard studying to be a director, about our collective vision for T'Challa and Wakanda. We spoke about the irony of how his former Howard classmate Ta-Nehisi Coates was writing T'Challa's current arc with Marvel Comics. And how Chad knew Howard student Prince Jones, whose murder by a police officer inspired Coates' memoir Between The World and Me. I noticed then that Chad was an anomaly. He was calm. Assured. Constantly studying. But also kind, comforting, had the warmest laugh in the world, and eyes that seen much beyond his years, but could still sparkle like a child seeing something for the first time....Chad deeply valued his privacy, and I wasn’t privy to the details of his illness. After his family released their statement, I realized that he was living with his illness the entire time I knew him. Because he was a caretaker, a leader, and a man of faith, dignity and pride, he shielded his collaborators from his suffering. He lived a beautiful life. And he made great art. Day after day, year after year. That was who he was. He was an epic firework display. I will tell stories about being there for some of the brilliant sparks till the end of my days. What an incredible mark he's left for us. I haven't grieved a loss this acute before. I spent the last year preparing, imagining and writing words for him to say, that we weren't destined to see. It leaves me broken knowing that I won't be able to watch another close-up of him in the monitor again or walk up to him and ask for another take.

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