Spike Lee says he understands why Chadwick Boseman didn’t tell him about illness

In a recent interview, director Spike Lee opened up about his professional interactions with the late Chadwick Boseman.

Chadwick Boseman‘s Hollywood peers continue to honor his life in shared stories of their time together. Director Spike Lee opened up about their time on set during a recent interview.

Read More: Chadwick Boseman could be a posthumous Oscar nominee

The 63-year-old director revealed he was unaware of Boseman’s battle against cancer while filming Da 5 Bloods. Covering Varietys ‘New York’ issue, Lee shared he, in fact, did not know the leading actor was sick at all until his tragic death.

Chadwick Boseman thegrio.com
(Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images)

“The thing with Chadwick? I didn’t know Chad was sick,” he remarked. The Academy-award winning creator continued, “I understand why Chadwick didn’t tell me because he didn’t want me to take it easy. If I had known, I wouldn’t have made him do the stuff. And I respect him for that.”

Lee shared how although Boseman did not look well, he chalked it up to the tough working conditions during production of the Netflix film.

“He did not look well, but my mind never took that he had cancer. It was a very strenuous shoot. I mean, we all didn’t get to Vietnam until the end of the movie at Ho Chi Minh City. But that other stuff, the jungle stuff, was shot in Thailand. It was 100 degrees every day. It was also at that time the worst air pollution in the world.”

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During the interview, Lee remembered shooting a scene where Boseman’s character “Stormin'” Norman Earl Holloway uncovered a bullet wound to his fellow soldiers in the jungle. The director said the lighting was a heavenly addition to the set.

“It was God’s heavenly light. We didn’t have light. You know, Delroy’s [Lindo] talking to the camera, talking about his conversation with God? We go up, and we come down and we find this heavenly light. It’s Chadwick standing in that light, in that pose. That was God up there. I don’t care what nobody says. That was God’s heavenly light because that scene’s not lit. That’s natural light. And that was God sending heavenly light on Chadwick.”

Lee told Variety that watching the film after the Black Panther star’s passing was “a whole ’nother experience,” and revealed he believed the actor thought it may be his last film.

“There’s a line in the movie where Clarke [Peters] says he’s the best damn soldier ever. And Chadwick was — is — a soldier. This is conjecture: There’s a possibility he thought this might be his last film. And God gave him one more with Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. But now looking at that, he was playing it. Stormin’ Norman says, ‘If I have to go out, I’m going gangbusters.’ And that’s what he did.”

Boseman stars alongside Viola Davis in the Denzel Washington produced Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, adapted from the August Wilson play. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom premieres December 18 on Netflix.

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