Ma Rainey's Black Bottom Chadwick Boseman sneering

The late, great Chadwick Boseman was taken from the world way before his time earlier this year, as the young actor succumbed to colon cancer at age 43. Leaving behind a resume that includes 42, Marshall, Black Panther, and Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods, Boseman’s performance prowess cannot be understated. The world will get one last chance to feast their eyes on the man at work in the Netflix adaptation of August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom; and as the director can attest, this super emotional performance is another blockbuster from Chadwick Boseman.

Playing the role of Levee for director George C. Wolfe, Boseman attacked his spot as the trumpeter in the band with the trademark gusto the world had come to expect. Wolfe was happy to share the details of that performance with The Wall Street Journal, and in that conversation, he revealed the moment on set that broke Chadwick Boseman into tears. Here’s how George C. Wolfe described this huge moment:

We were doing it in a very casual way, and I assumed that when Levee got to the big speech that Chadwick was going to stop. But he didn’t stop. He kept going, and Levee took over — it was raw and explosive.

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom originated as a stage play, first performed in a staged reading in 1982, so there’s going to be the potential for show stopping monologues that bring the house down. Even movie audiences would know that, as Denzel Washington’s adaptation of Fences gave Viola Davis the opportunity to wring every ounce of emotion out of such a scene, and netted her an Academy Award. With the hype surrounding Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom keeping Chadwick Boseman in contention for yet another potential nomination next year, it’s no surprise that such a scene will be unveiled to the public in due time.

Of course, after Boseman delivered the good on set for George C. Wolfe, he came back to reality in the most emotional way. The tears came hard and fast, and Wolfe remembered the aftermath as well as the inciting incident. Chadwick Boseman’s recovery from that moment went something like this:

Afterwards, Chadwick just started to sob, and Colman [Domingo] hugged him, and then Chadwick’s girlfriend basically picked him up.

The devastation that the director of Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom describes in Chadwick Boseman’s performance sounds like it’s going to be one of, if not the moment audiences are overcome with emotions. With the film currently in limited theatrical release, you too will have the opportunity to have your heart broken by August Wilson’s legendary stage play. But if you’re looking for the streaming alternative, Netflix will have the movie available in their library on December 18th. In the meantime, keep up on what else will compete with this film in the awards season to come, thanks to the 2020 release schedule, as well as 2021’s rundown of films to come.

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