Chadwick Boseman's Close Friends Discuss His Private Cancer Battle

Chadwick Boseman's close friends prove just how strong he really was. In a candid discussion, the star's tight-knit circle confessed they didn't know about Boseman's cancer diagnosis.

By Alyssa Morin Sep 02, 2020 8:18 PMTags
Watch: Chadwick Boseman Remembered: E! News Rewind

Chadwick Boseman's close friends are proving just how strong he really was.

The Black Panther star's tight-knit circle recently opened up about his life and legacy in a candid discussion with The Hollywood Reporter.

Following the news of Boseman's death on Friday, Aug. 28, in which his reps confirmed he had been privately battling colon cancer since 2016, the actor's friends admitted to not knowing about his diagnosis.

Dr. Wayne A.I. Frederick, the president of Howard University, remembered having dinner with Boseman (a Howard University alumni) and Phylicia Rashad to chat about the school's Fine Arts program. During dinner, Frederick said he noticed the actor looked "smaller than he had been," and so he asked what it was like for him to change his appearance for roles.

"In his usual style, he gave a long, detailed answer, explaining that he was a vegetarian and was exercising and trying to take care of himself and do what he had to do," Frederick recalled. "It was a very thoughtful response, never letting on that anything else was happening."

Black Panther Stars Remember Chadwick Boseman

Boseman's trainer also shared that he had no knowledge of what the star was going through.

"I used to tell Chad, 'Man, you remind me of my dad,'" Addison Henderson expressed, in which THR noted that his own father beat cancer four times. "'You guys are fighters, and you never stop moving forward.'"

"For us, it was just like, 'Let's keep going, let's keep doing what you want to do, let's keep training,'" he said, adding, "He was just living his artistic life to the fullest and using his time and his moment to really affect people."

Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

As Henderson put it, "Some people wait a lifetime to get the opportunity that he had and Chad had so much wisdom, so much knowledge, so much inside of him that he wasn't going to let this disease stop him from telling these amazing stories and showing his art in the prime of his life."

According to Michael Greene, the actor's agent, Boseman decided to keep his cancer diagnosis private due to his mother's influence.

"[Carolyn] always taught him not to have people fuss over him," Greene claimed. "He also felt in this business that people trip out about things, and he was a very, very private person."

Greene also revealed that Boseman "was really in hard-core pain" while filming one of his final projectsMa Rainey's Black Bottom. Per Greene, the actor "felt that being able to be with Denzel [Washington] and to launch this cycle of [playwright], August Wilson, at Netflix was so exciting to him."

Like some of Boseman's close circle of friends, even his collaborators didn't know the private battle he was facing.

Over the weekend, the Black Panther director penned a heartfelt tribute to the star.

"After his family released their statement, I realized that he was living with his illness the entire time I knew him," Ryan Coogler wrote. "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," Coogler continued. "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."

Spike Lee recently shared the same sentiments, saying, "We filmed Da 5 Bloods in Thailand, and it was hot, jungles, mountains, and Chadwick was there with us all the way. I never, ever suspected that anything was wrong. No one knew he was going through treatment, chemotherapy." 

Marvel Studios

According to a statement posted on Boseman's social media accounts, he passed away at home with his loved ones by his side, including his wife, Taylor Simone Ledward.

"It is with immeasurable grief that we confirm the passing of Chadwick Boseman," the statement read. "Chadwick was diagnosed with stage III colon cancer in 2016, and battled with it these last 4 years as it progressed to stage IV. A true fighter, Chadwick persevered through it all, and brought you many of the films you have come to love so much."

"The family thanks you for your love and prayers, and asks that you continue to respect their privacy during this difficult time," it concluded.

To read more tributes dedicated in Boseman's honor, the incredible legacy he left behind and more, click here.