Chadwick Boseman tipped to win posthumous Oscar with moving speech from widow Simone expected

STEEL yourself for the most emotional Oscar night ever if Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman is named Best Actor.

There are sure to be floods of tears at Union Station in Los Angeles, where the golden statuettes will be handed out on Sunday night.

That is because the American is almost certain to be only the second actor to win the leading role award posthumously.

It will be his widow Simone Ledward Boseman, who married Chadwick in secret during the final months of his life, delivering an acceptance speech on his behalf.

When she did that for her late husband at the Golden Globes, presenter Renee Zellweger was unable to stop herself weeping.

What makes Chadwick’s nominated performance in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom more remarkable is that he was deep in the grips of the fatal illness when he delivered it with unmatched vigour, commitment and passion.

The star, who died at the age of 43 last August, was so caught up in the role that at one point he pulled out a real knife rather than a fake one.

And while the director was more than happy with his takes, perfectionist Chadwick would cry out ‘one more’.

'One more'

Most of his fellow cast members did not know he had been diagnosed with colon cancer.

It is clear that if his name is pulled out of the envelope this weekend it will be because Chadwick surpassed his rivals, rather than as an act of sympathy.

Glynn Turman, who played one of Chadwick’s fellow band members in the Netflix movie, said: “His performance didn't have anything to do with the condition he was in. He was just that damn good. Period.”

Tragically, Chadwick’s talents were only just starting to be rewarded with the roles they deserved when he learned that he had cancer in 2016.

His performance didn't have anything to do with the condition he was in. He was just that damn good. Period

His first major leading role was portraying black baseball legend Jackie Robinson in 42 in 2013, which was quickly followed a year later by playing the Godfather of Soul James Brown in Get On Up.

Chadwick was dedicated to detail, practising the foot movements of Brown during every spare moment and getting the slide technique of big run scorer Robinson just right.

Those standout performances caught the eye of Marvel’s head honcho Kevin Feige, who cast Chadwick as comic book hero Black Panther without an audition.

The 2018 Black Panther movie went on to make over £1billion at the box office and became the first superhero movie to secure a Best Picture Oscar nomination.

Audiences could never have imagined that Chadwick, with his bulging biceps and even bigger cheeky grin, was hiding a health crisis.

By the time the disease was spotted by doctors it was at stage three, which means it had already started to spread.

That’s why 30-year-old Simone told audiences to "please get screened” for what is the third most common cancer in men.

In between filming Black Panther, Marshall, Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame, 21 Bridges, Da 5 Bloods, and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom Chadwick had to endure “countless surgeries and chemotherapy”.

By his side, every step of the way, was Simone, who he’d met in 2015.

The music industry studies graduate was on set with Chadwick when he filmed Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom in the summer of 2019.

Glyn revealed that: “Chadwick had a team of people he worked with who took good care of him.

“We had no idea what they were doing and why. They were all led by Simone."

Led by Simone

Visibly thinner for the role of trumpet player Levee in the film, he needed support, but rarely showed it.

On set he sparred with producer Denzel Washington and went out for drinks with the small cast.

Viola Davis, who has an Best Actress nomination for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, said: "Let's all go to dinner and get drunk."

The doors to the restaurant were closed to others so the famous group could let their hair down.

You know you have to step up when you're in his presence

When it was time to work, though, Chadwick was totally focused.

Viola, who won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for Fences in 2016, said: “You know you have to step up when you're in his presence.

“He's looking at your work and he's really hyper-focused, on the craft, on the process. That's Chad.”

Glynn learned how real things could get acting alongside Chadwick when he went for a genuine blade rather than the safe one.

He was going for the danger of it.

The actor, who plays pianist Toledo, revealed: “I knew they had two knives. One was a real knife. And, of course, one was a dummy. I saw Chadwick switch out that dummy knife and use the real knife. 

“And I didn't say anything. I knew what he was doing. He was going for the danger of it. I knew I wasn't going to be hurt.”

In the same year Simone and Chadwick privately got engaged, with the public only becoming aware when she was spotted sporting a ring at a basketball game.

The cast of Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom had told him they should get married and that’s what he did.

Now suffering from stage four cancer, the point at which doctors believe the condition can only be managed rather than cured, Chadwick’s health started to decline.

By the time the end came, his older brother Derrick, 54, believed the actor was ready to go.

He told Derrick: "Man, I'm in the fourth quarter, and I need you to get me out of the game."

By the next morning Chadwick was dead, having shared his final hours with his family around him.

He has now been buried just outside of the city of Anderson in South Carolina, where he grew up and where his parents Leroy and Carolyn still live.

The news of his passing shocked the entertainment world, because there was no inkling that he was sick.

A new Black Panther movie is due to be released in July next year, but Marvel insist that Chadwick’s part of T’Challa won’t be recast.

Instead a new character will take on the mantle of the superpowered African king.

His portrayal of T'Challa the Black Panther is iconic

Feige said: "His portrayal of T'Challa the Black Panther is iconic and transcends any iteration of the character in any other medium from Marvel's past. It's for that reason we will not recast the character."

Despite his international fame Chadwick rarely spoke about his private life and certainly wasn’t the type of person to post about it on social media.

That only changed after his death.

When it was announced on Instagram that he had died it was also revealed in passing that Simone, his “wife,” had been by his side.

He didn’t leave a will and she is now in charge of his estate.

Simone has made sure he is remembered with a string of moving speeches at various award ceremonies.

Chadwick has a Critics' Choice and Screen Actors Guild award for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and also picked up best supporting awards for Da 5 Bloods, for which he’s also Oscar nominated.

At the Critics’ Choice Award Simone said “it is so hard to find a celebratory feeling in these moments.”

It is clear she desperately wishes Chadwick was doing it instead.

Accepting the Golden Globe award via a Zoom video link in February, Simone said that if Chadwick had been there: "He would say something beautiful, something inspiring. 

“Something that would amplify that little voice inside all of us that tells you you can. That tells you to keep going."

On Sunday night it will take all her strength to keep going when she should deliver one last speech on his behalf.

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