Denzel Washington paid tribute to the late Chadwick Boseman as a ‘gentle soul and brilliant artist’ two years after it was revealed that the acting legend secretly paid for the 43-year-old Black Panther star to study acting at Oxford.
‘He was a gentle soul and a brilliant artist, who will stay with us for eternity through his iconic performances over his short yet illustrious career,’ Washington, 65, told The Hollywood Reporter.
‘God bless Chadwick Boseman.’
Washington, the two-time Academy Award winner, had a hand in helping Boseman’s budding acting career.
In 2018, Boseman revealed that he may not have gotten to where he is now without the indirect help of the Training Day star.
Denzel Washington (left) joined many Hollywood stars in mourning the passing of Black Panther actor Chadwick Boseman (right) on Friday
‘He was a gentle soul and a brilliant artist, who will stay with us for eternity through his iconic performances over his short yet illustrious career,’ Washington, 65, said of Boseman. Boseman is seen above in a scene from the Disney film Black Panther
Boseman shared more of the story, which he originally told to Rolling Stone, during a March 2018 appearance on The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon.
In the original interview, Chadwick revealed that while taking an acting class at Howard University, his teacher, Phylicia Rashad, encouraged him to study theater at the prestigious Oxford University in the United Kingdom during a summer program.
While he and friends were accepted to said program, they couldn’t afford to go.
That’s when Rashad, who played Clair Huxtable on The Cosby Show, stepped in and ‘essentially got some celebrity friends to pay for us to go,’ he told the magazine.
Though he wouldn’t originally say who paid outside of insisting it was not Bill Cosby, Boseman finally relented, admitting ‘Denzel paid for me.’
Fallon grilled him some more on the revelation.
Boseman went on to tell how he finally got to thank the Hollywood legend in person.
Boseman invited Washington to the New York premiere of Black Panther, and then thanked him profusely.
According to Boseman, Washington hilariously responded ‘Oh so that’s why I’m here, you owe me money!’
Last year, Boseman spoke at the American Film Institute dinner honoring Washington with a lifetime achievement award and recalled the story.
Boseman appeared on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon in 2018 and spoke about Washington’s generosity
‘I know personally that your generosity extends past what you have given on the stage and screen,’ Boseman told Washington and the rest of the audience in Los Angeles.
‘Many of you already know the story that Mr. Washington, when asked by Phylicia Rashad to join her in assisting nine theater students from Howard University who had been accepted to a summer acting program at the British Academy of Dramatic Acting in Oxford,’ Boseman said.
‘He gracefully and privately agreed to contribute. As fate would have it, I was one of the students that he paid for.’
Boseman added: ‘Imagine receiving a letter that your tuition for that summer was paid for and your benefactor was none other than the dopest actor on the planet.’
Boseman credited Washington with being a trailblazer for black actor in Hollywood, saying: ‘There is no Black Panther without Denzel Washington.’
‘And not just because of me, but my whole cast. That generation stands on your shoulders,’ he said.
Boseman died at the age of 43 on Friday after enduring a four-year battle with colon cancer.
Last year, Boseman paid tribute to Washington at a Hollywood dinner in which the two-time Oscar winner received the American Film Institute’s lifetime achievement award
In an announcement that stunned Hollywood, Boseman’s family said he had been diagnosed with colon cancer four years ago and died surrounded by his loved ones, including wife Taylor Simone Ledward.
He never discussed the illness publicly and films including Black Panther, Da 5 Bloods and Avengers: Endgame were all filmed ‘during and between countless surgeries and chemotherapy,’ the family said.
Tributes to Boseman poured in from across a reeling Hollywood.
Marvel chief Kevin Feige, who cast him as Black Panther, said his death was ‘absolutely devastating,’ while Get Out filmmaker Jordan Peele said it was a ‘crushing blow.’
Oscar-winner Barry Jenkins and Marvel stars Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth and Chris Pratt also paid tribute.
Boseman was cast as superhero T’Challa, the king of African nation Wakanda, in 2014, and made his debut as the character in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War.
Boseman studied acting at Howard University in a course taught by Phylicia Rashad of The Cosby Show. It was Rashad who arranged for Washington and others to fund Boseman’s tuition for an exchange program at Oxford. Boseman and Rashad are seen above in 2015
Chris Evans played Captain America and said: ‘I’m absolutely devastated. This is beyond heartbreaking. Chadwick was special. A true original. He was a deeply committed and constantly curious artist. He had so much amazing work still left to create. I’m endlessly grateful for our friendship. Rest in power, King.’
The release of Black Panther in 2018, two years after Boseman was diagnosed with stage three colon cancer, was a landmark moment for representation in Hollywood.
Both the film and Boseman’s portrayal of the titular superhero achieved universal acclaim as well as huge success at the box office.
It grossed more than $1.3billion dollars worldwide and earned an Academy Award best picture nomination, the first superhero movie to do so.
It also sparked a worldwide celebration of African culture, with the character’s famous ‘Wakanda Forever’ salute inspiring millions of people to feel an added sense of pride in their African heritage.
A sequel, Black Panther 2, had been set for release in 2022, but it is unclear what will now happen with the film.
Born in South Carolina, Boseman originally wanted to become a writer and director, graduating from Howard University in 2000 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in directing.
After moving to Los Angeles to pursue his acting career, Boseman’s breakthrough role came in the 2013 film 42, in which he starred as baseball pioneer Jackie Robinson.
Boseman again assumed the role of a revered African American figure when he starred as soul singer James Brown in the 2014 film Get on Up.
His most recent film was Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods, which arrived in June. He played a US soldier killed in action during the Vietnam War and was widely lauded for the performance.
After moving to Los Angeles to pursue his acting career, Boseman’s breakthrough role came in the 2013 film 42, in which he starred as baseball pioneer Jackie Robinson
Boseman is set to make a posthumous appearance alongside Viola Davis in upcoming drama film Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.
She wrote: ‘Chadwick…..no words to express my devastation of losing you.
‘Your talent, your spirit, your heart, your authenticity……..It was an honor working beside you, getting to know you….Rest well prince…May flights of angels sing thee to thy heavenly rest. I love you!’
Announcing his death, the family said: ‘It is with immeasurable grief that we confirm the passing of Chadwick Boseman. It was the honor of his life to bring King T’Challa to life in Black Panther.’
In his tribute, Feige, the mastermind behind the extraordinarily successful Marvel Cinematic Universe, said: ‘Chadwick’s passing is absolutely devastating. He was our T’Challa, our Black Panther, and our dear friend. Each time he stepped on set, he radiated charisma and joy, and each time he appeared on screen, he created something truly indelible.’