Billy Dee Williams in The Rise of Skywalker

Every year comes with its own set of devastating celebrity deaths, and 2020 is no exception to that rule. The latest major heartbreak came this past weekend, when it was revealed that Black Panther actor Chadwick Boseman died at age 43 after fighting colon cancer. Boseman was a hero both in front and behind the camera, and his death is heartbreaking for his fans all around the world. Plenty of people have posted their own touching farewells to Boseman, and now Star Wars legend Billy Dee Williams has added his voice to the countless others paying tribute to the late actor.

Black Panther was a major step forward in regards to inclusion, as Black fans were able to see themselves being represented in its cast, crew, music, and dialogue. Billy Dee Williams no doubt understands the importance of representation on screen, as his character Lando was the only principal character of color in the original Star Wars trilogy. The beloved actor shared his thoughts on Chadwick Boseman's passing, saying:

Lando Calrissian has spoken. Chadwick Boseman leaves behind a legacy of work behind him, including his four appearances in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And that legacy extends beyond the movies, as roles like T'Challa had the ability to open minds and make positive change in the world.

Billy Dee Williams' comments come from his personal Twitter page, and puts into context the cultural significance of Chadwick Boseman's career, particularly when it comes to T'Challa. Because while the comic book genre has taken major steps forward in regards to diversity on screen, Black Panther was the first Marvel flick to feature so much Black talent. This obviously includes Boseman himself, who brought the King of Wakanda to life on the big screen and helped to teach young audience members in the process.

Phase Three saw the Marvel Cinematic Universe become a more diverse place, as people of color and women were brought into the forefront in more roles. But Black Panther's success was truly unprecedented, with the movie making over $1 billion dollars and earning a whopping seven Academy Award nominations including Best Picture. Chadwick Boseman's character quickly became a fan favorite hero of the MCU, with a seemingly bright future in the next slate of movies.

But as it was revealed with his death, Chadwick Boseman had been quietly battling colon cancer throughout the past few years. This includes during the long hours filming his myriad silver screen appearances, as well as the travel and hours that come with press tours. Despite his personal struggles, the late actor fully immersed himself into his roles in acclaimed projects like 42, Get on Up, Marshall, and Spike Lee's Da 5 Bloods.

Billy Dee Williams isn't the only public figure to pay tribute to Chadwick Boseman following his unexpected death at the age of 43. Plenty of his MCU collaborators have spoken out about his talent and spirit, including Ryan Coogler, Michael B. Jordan, Chris Evans, and Mark Ruffalo. And that's nothing compared to the response from countless fans, who actually made Boseman's announcement break records on social media.

CinemaBlend's thoughts continue to be with Chadwick Boseman's loved ones during this difficult time. Wakanda forever.

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