Films

Why Chadwick Boseman could never have been Black Panther without Denzel Washington

Posted by
Tom Victor
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The last few years have seen Chadwick Boseman make huge strides in his acting career, culminating in his title role in Black Panther.

The 41-year-old actor and recent ShortList cover star has been a late bloomer when it comes to feature films, despite an accomplished career in television in his 30s.

There’s every chance he goes on from here to find himself in major award contention in years to come, and if that does happen then Denzel Washington will be one of the people he ends up thanking for making it happen.

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Chadwick Boseman in Black Panther

It all goes back to the days when Boseman was a budding – and broke – actor.

His teacher at the time was Phylicia Rashad, the Cosby Show star who more recently featured in Ryan Coogler’s award-winning film Creed, and she proved the link between Boseman and Washington.

He and some of his classmates got accepted onto an acting course at Oxford University in the early 2000s, but couldn’t afford to take up the place without a little help.

This is where Washington, at the time very much an A-Lister, dipped into his pockets to help out.

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Good guy Denzel

“[Rashad] essentially got some celebrity friends to pay for us to go,” Boseman recently told Rolling Stone.

“After we got back, we got a benefactor letter… Denzel paid for me. I’ve been waiting to meet him, so I can tell him.”

They have now met, with Boseman recalling the interaction at the Oscars pre-show this weekend, saying: “It was a fun conversation. The first thing he said was, ‘You owe me money! I came to collect.’”

Boseman remains one of the hardest-working men in Hollywood, taking his opportunity and running with it to reach superhero status after years in the business, and he recognises how Washington’s generosity helped early on.

And now, as reported by ABC, Boseman has pledged to pay it forward so future generations of actors can get the education they deserve.

Perhaps we’ll see another story like this a decade down the line.

(Images: Rex)