Did You Know?: Chadwick Boseman Rejected Roles For A Slave And Other Black Stereotypes

by Duke Magazine

Chadwick Boseman’s manager, Michael Greene, is pouring out his piece of tribute to the untimely passing of the Black Panther star. 

Greene, who lauded the commitment and loyalty despite the successes he had chalked up over the years, described Boseman as a man of integrity and morality with meticulous character towards the movie roles he starred in. 

Greene revealed that Boseman wasn’t a fan of projects that perpetuated Black stereotypes.

According to Greene, Boseman was once offered a role in a movie about two slaves alongside Tessa Thompson, but he turned it down because he wasn’t for the negativity:

“I remember him and Tessa were offered a movie, it was about two slaves, and he was like, “I do not want to perpetuate slavery.” It was like, “We’re not going to keep perpetuating the stereotypes,” and that’s why he wanted to show men of strength and of character.

It was always about bringing light. That’s why we never did really dark movies or movies that were just people shooting everybody and perpetuating darkness. He accomplished so much, and all while he was fighting the darkness, literally. Until the last couple of days of his life, he was fighting it.”

Greene also recalled those same sentiments led to him having to part ways with his first TV show, All My Children, which future Black Panther co-star, Michael B. Jordan, later took over.

“After Chad’s first script, they literally said, ‘Oh, here’s your next script, and your mother’s a crackhead and your father left’,” he wrote. ‘And he goes, ‘I’m not playing those images,’ and he went into the writers room, and they fired him.”

After starting his acting career on TV, Boseman gained fame when he landed a leading role in the 2013 critically-acclaimed biographical film “42”. Boseman played Major League baseball legend Jackie Robinson, winning several awards for his amazing performance. In 2014, he also played James Brown in “Get On Up and then starred in “Marshall as Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American Supreme Court justice.

Touching on how he approached replicating real-life people in movies, Greene cited his 2014 James Brown biopic, Get on Up, saying:

“Even with Get On Up, they offered James Brown to him and he said, “No, I want to test for it.” And they were like, “What are you talking about? We’re offering it to you.” He said, “No, no. I want to make sure that you all think that I can do this because I have to do my own dancing.” Two weeks later, we saw a tape and it was like, “Oh, yes, you can.” He needed to talk to the James Brown family; before he did Marshall, he had to talk to John Marshall, the son. Because he was dark-skinned and didn’t want a lot of controversy, Chad wanted to make sure his son was OK about it. And his son wrote a letter that he’d be honored.”

Boseman died on August 28 of colon cancer at 43. His medical condition was not publicly known. A statement released after his death said he was first diagnosed with colon cancer in 2016 and filmed many movies “during and between countless surgeries and chemotherapy.”

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