Chadwick Boseman is predicted to be a frontrunner for the Oscar's Best Actor award for his work in Wolfe's Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.
The late Chadwick Boseman's last two acting roles were for Spike Lee's Da 5 Bloods and George C. Wolfe's Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. In a recent interview, the two directors reflected on the stellar performances Boseman offered in both despite battling colon cancer, and how they were unaware he was dealing with the illness while filming.
"I knew absolutely nothing. I had no sense of it. He would do take after take of these deep, raw emotional moments. There's a moment in the film where he breaks through this door, and he kicked so violently that the door shattered and we had to figure out how to put it together. Every single thing that he was doing had this incredibly intense level of commitment to it," Wolfe said during a director roundtable article with The Hollywood Reporter. "He was thinner, but I thought he was fasting or something like that, there was no indication emotionally or physically that anything else was going on. … I found out when the world found out, and it was just devastating and shocking, because I sensed nothing else was going on, other than an actor giving every single ounce of what he had to make the character in the film and the moments come alive."
"There was a very small circle that knew he was not going to be here that much longer, and I understand why he did not want people to know," Lee added. "If I would have known, the first battle sequence in the film is 100 degrees and we had the shots, where he has to run 50 yards like Usain Bolt. I mean, he has to haul it. If he tells me that, automatically I'm not going to make him, I'm not going to push him as hard as I can. … He did not want any shortcuts. Any special treatment, didn't want it."
Wolfe also said that Boseman will probably win the Oscar for his Ma Rainey performance, adding: "He shouldn't win it because he died. It's the best performance of the year, he pours his heart out."