Marvel’s Letitia Wright Opens Up About Emotional Exchange She Had With Black Panther Co-Star After Learning Of Chadwick Boseman’s Death

Letitia Wright's Shuri at T'Challa's funeral
(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

The Marvel Cinematic Universe recently expanded with the release of Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. The acclaimed blockbuster was one of the host hotly anticipated upcoming Marvel movies ahead of its release, and has been making a ton of money at the box office over the last few weeks. The sequel is a meditation on grief, with a touching real-world connection due to the passing of Chadwick Boseman. And Marvel’s Letitia Wright has opened up about the emotional exchange she had with a Black Panther co-star after learning of Boseman’s death.

Chadwick Boseman passed away in the summer of 2020, after a private battle with colon cancer. This shocked the fans and his colleagues alike, the latter of which have been open about the grieving process that accompanied the process of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Letitia Wright plays Shuri in the franchise, and recently opened up to The Guardian about exactly how she initially learned of Boseman’s death. In her words,

I was at home in my apartment in east London. I was by myself. I just woke up and saw an email saying my condolences, and I was like, ‘My condolences for what?’ Then I clicked out of that email and kept just seeing Chadwick Boseman, Chadwick Boseman, Chadwick Boseman. I was like, ‘What the hell’s going on?’ I clicked on one, and it was the PR team saying, ‘Do you want to write a statement?’ Statement? What’s going on?

This feeling of confusion can no doubt be echoed by countless colleagues and fans of Chadwick Boseman, who were unaware of his health issues. While Letitia Wright had a close relationship to her on-screen brother, she was blindsided when folks started sending their condolences related to his death. It’s a sobering account of that very real feeling when tragedy strikes, and one can’t wrap their head around it.

Later in that same interview Letitia Wright revealed one Black Panther actor who was there for her in her pain and confusion. Namely Daniel Kaluuya, who was unfortunately absent throughout the movie’s sequel. As she shared: 

And I went to my phone, and I saw 50 calls back-to-back from different people. I was like, this is mad. So I just called Chad and his phone was ringing out. Then I called Daniel Kaluuya and I was like, ‘Bro, what’s going on?’ And he was silent. And I was like, ‘Bro you have five seconds to tell me this is not true? This is horrible. What’s going on?’ And there was this dead silence, and I was like, ‘I think this is true, but I’m just asking you to tell me that it’s not.’ And he didn’t. His response was, ‘Tish, where are you, who are you with?’ And I was like, ‘OK you’re not giving me the answer I need, I’m going to call Chad again.’ Daniel said, ‘Tish what are you doing?’ I said I’m trying to call Chad, and he said ‘Tish, the family … ’ And the second he said that I just lost it. I was punching my apartment up, I was screaming. I was just so angered. I was like, ‘Bro, Daniel, this is not happening’, but his silence spoke so loudly. And he just came immediately from where he was to comfort me.

What an emotional story. Letitia Wright’s honest recollection of the time following Chadwick Boseman’s death shows just how close the cast and crew of Black Panther truly got while bringing Wakanda to life. And these emotions seemingly translated into the powerhouse performances given by Wright and Angela Bassett in the acclaimed sequel. 

Ahead of Black Panther 2’s release, Ryan Coogler and the cast had been open about how emotional it was to bring the Marvel sequel to life. Chadwick Boseman’s absence was described as a gaping hole, and it was touching to see how he was honored throughout Wakanda Forever’s runtime, including the movie’s ending, as well as the emotional mid-credits scene. Letitia Wright further explained how close the cast/crew of her Marvel franchise are, saying:

You don’t know until something happens how it will affect you. You think you have time, and that’s the thing I’ve learned. These things make you realize it’s important to reach out to people you love. The amount of times I text my cast members to tell them I love them, especially Danai [Gurira]. I’m always texting Ryan [Coogler, the director of the Black Panther films] that I love him, and asking him how he is. I’m not going to delay that any more because tomorrow’s not promised. Since Chad died, I’m so afraid to lose people.

Grief is a tricky beast, and it’s super brave and generous for Letitia Wright to offer such an intimate peek into the way she’s been mourning Chadwick Boseman. And it sounds like in addition to finding a way to move on professionally and personally, the loss has changed the way she looks at her relationships to other co-stars like Okoye actress Dani Gurira

The contents of Black Panther 2 inspired plenty of new questions, including who is ruling Wakanda. And while it remains to be seen how plot likes like Namor and Prince T’Challa play out, that corner of the MCU has gotten even more intriguing. 

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is in theaters now, and making a ton of money at the box office. Be sure to check out the 2022 movie release dates to plan your next movie experience– just don’t expect any more Marvel movies until Phase Five. 

Corey Chichizola
Movies Editor

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Double majored in theater and literature during undergrad. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his famous actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid.