Chadwick Boseman’s last performance a bittersweet gift
Published on: December 20, 2020 10:30 (EAT)
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom’ in which Chadwick Boseman performed for a final time prior to his death in August at age 43, premiered on Friday on Netflix. Boseman plays ambitious trumpeter Levee in this film, based on the 1982 play of the same name by August Wilson. Boseman’s peformance is both moving and haunting, especially with the hindsight that throughout production he was battling the colon cancer that would eventually take his life. “While ‘Black Panther’ remains an enormous part of Boseman’s legacy, his flashy, fast-talking role here — using music as a means of seduction — demonstrates his extraordinary range and, at least while watching, nearly erases considerations beyond what’s on screen, which is no small feat,” my CNN colleague Brian Lowry wrote in his review. Boseman is just one actor whose last project became a bittersweet gift. Heath Ledger: The actor filmed two projects prior to his death at the age of 28 from accidental acute drug intoxication in 2008. His role as the Joker in “The Dark Knight” won him a posthumous Academy Award for best supporting actor, while his role in “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus” was recast. Watching Ledger as the Joker is a wonderment because as talented as we all knew he was, his performance in that role far surpassed any of his prior work. No spoilers, but one of the saddest moments of “Furious 7” is the final shot of Paul Walker. Walker died in a car crash in 2013, and the movie was completed using technology and his two brothers, Caleb and Cody Walker, as his body doubles. He was 40. The “Fast & Furious” franchise has been one of the most successful in cinema history, and Walker was a huge part of that. Whitney Houston: Houston starred as a mother in this musical remake about a group of sisters who form a singing group. “Sparkle” hit theaters months after she was found dead in 2012 at age 48. Her performance of “His Eye Is on the Sparrow” for the film’s soundtrack was a reminder that the world lost not only a talented actress, but also one of the greatest vocalists of our time. While stars like this leave us with their art to remember and celebrate them, they also leave us with the grief that we won’t have the opportunity to see them create again.