In a new as-told-to article, Chadwick Boseman‘s agent opens up on the late actor’s ethical role selection process.
Michael Greene shared with Kirsten Chuba, writing for The Hollywood Reporter, his experience working with Boseman and shared how the actor chose and portrayed his iconic on-screen roles.
“We talked almost every day, about why to take a role and how important it was if he was taking a part,” he writes.
He continues: “Chad always made sure of the integrity, the ethics, the morals. I’ve represented a lot of clients, and started a lot of clients. His commitment and loyalty was amazing. It’s not typical in Hollywood.”
Greene reveals that Boseman had the opportunity to star alongside Tessa Thompson in a film about slavery in which he declined. His agent said the actor declared, “I do not want to perpetuate slavery.”
It is also relayed how the Black Panther star refused to continue a role on “All My Children,” picked up by then-teen Michael B, Jordan, once learning his fictional parents were either absent or addicts.
“After Chad’s first script, they literally said, ‘Oh, here’s your next script, and your mother’s a crackhead and your father left.’ And he goes, ‘I’m not playing those images,’ and he went into the writers room, and they fired him,” Greene details.
Beyond explaining the roles Boseman refused, Greene describes the care and intent behind the characters and stories the actor did bring to life. He wrote that although Boseman was offered the role of James Brown, the talent insisted on testing for the part.
“Even with Get On Up, they offered James Brown to him, and he said, ‘No, I want to test for it.’ And they were like, ‘What are you talking about? We’re offering it to you.’ He said, “No, no. I want to make sure that you all think that I can do this because I have to do my own dancing.’ Two weeks later, we saw a tape and it was like, ‘Oh, yes, you can.’”
Boseman also was sure to consult the Brown family for the pioneer’s biography, as well as the Marshall family when starring in the Thurgood Marshall biopic bearing the family name of the nation’s first Black Supreme Court justice.
“He needed to talk to the James Brown family; before he did Marshall, he had to talk to John Marshall, the son. Because he was dark-skinned and didn’t want a lot of controversy, Chad wanted to make sure his son was OK about it. And his son wrote a letter that he’d be honored.”
It is also revealed that Boseman fought hard for the iconic waterfall scene in Black Panther and would only do the film if he was able to use an African man’s voice and dialect.
“The amount of time that we strategized over whether he should do a role for the betterment of humanity — it was always about utilizing his platform. ‘How can I give back? How will this be valuable to the Black community, and the community at large?’” Greene writes of the Howard University graduate.
“It was always about bringing light. That’s why we never did really dark movies or movies that were just people shooting everybody and perpetuating darkness,” continued Greene. “He accomplished so much, and all while he was fighting the darkness, literally. Until the last couple of days of his life, he was fighting it.”
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