Hollywood star kept terminal illness a secret until the end: ‘I was unhappy for months not being able to say goodbye’

“It’s a bad joke.”

That’s what British actress Letitia Wright first thought when two years ago she woke up to text messages from friends and acquaintances that simply said ‘my condolences’.

Like the rest of the world, she didn’t know that her close ‘Black Panther’ colleague, Chadwick Boseman, had been ill with bowel cancer for four years, and therefore she didn’t believe it when she suddenly got the news that he had died.

“The first thing I did was do what everyone would do: Call Chad,” she says in a new interview with the American media Varietywho spoke with her on the occasion of the premiere of the new ‘Black Panther’ film ‘Wakanda Forever’.

Letitia Wright at the world premiere of ‘Wakanda Forever’ in Los Angeles.
Photo: MARIO ANZUONI

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She goes on to say that she called several times and sent a text message, but there was, for good reason, no answer, and it was only when she spoke to ‘Black Panther’ colleague Daniel Kaluuya that the seriousness dawned on her.

And then suddenly she was far too far away.

Corona ravaged, Letitia Wright was in a closed Britain, and therefore she could not attend Chadwick Boseman’s funeral a few days later in the USA.

“I was unhappy for months about not being able to say goodbye to him or be with my ‘Black Panther’ family,” she recalls.


Chadwick Boseman was only 43 years old.

Chadwick Boseman was only 43 years old.
Photo: zz/Galaxy/STAR MAX/IPx

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And it has been incredibly emotional for the entire team around the ‘Black Panther’ universe to say goodbye to Chadwick Boseman and continue the film series.

At first it was quickly decided that they would not let a new actor play his role.

After that, it was incorporated into the story that his character is also dead – and that helped one of the actors in particular in dealing with grief.

“When Ryan (‘Wakanda Forever’ director Ryan Coogler, ed.) came to each of us and went through the story, I felt a sense of relief that you took what had happened in reality and put it into ‘Wakanda’- the universe’,’ Lupita Nyong’o tells the British media The Face.


Lupita Nyong'o at the world premiere of 'Wakanda Forever'.

Lupita Nyong’o at the world premiere of ‘Wakanda Forever’.
Photo: TOBY MELVILLE

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“I didn’t have to leave my grief at home. I could take it to work and use it to create something beautiful. It gave the grief a purpose,” explains Lupita Nyong’o, who in the ‘Black Panther’ films plays Chadwick Boseman’s character’s ex-girlfriend, the warrior Nakia.

Finally, director Ryan Coogler says that he just chose to let Letitia Wright’s character Shuri take over the lead role in the new film to honor Chadwick Boseman.

He explains to Varietythat Shuri was Chadwick Boseman’s favorite character, and that Letitia Wright was the only person on set who could make him break out of character and laugh, so it made sense to let the audience experience most of the film through Shuri’s character eyes.

Above you can see the trailer for ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’.

Below you can listen to the latest edition of BT’s podcast ‘What we’re talking about’:

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