Denzel Washington says he encouraged Chadwick Boseman to marry wife

'She watched him,' Washington said of the woman then dating his protege. 'And I'm like, man, she loves that guy.'

In an interview this weekend with CBS Sunday Morning, acting icon Denzel Washington said he encouraged his protege, Chadwick Boseman, to marry his then-girlfriend, Taylor Simone Ledward.

Washington was recounting time spent on the set of the highly-anticipated Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, coming this week to Netflix. Washington was an executive producer on the film, which is based on the famed 1982 work by celebrated playwright August Wilson.

Denzel Washington (left), shown at last year’s 47th AFI Life Achievement Award gala in which he was celebrated, encouraged his protege, Chadwick Boseman, to marry Taylor Simone Ledward. The two (right) wed before Boseman’s death. (Photos by Amy Sussman/Getty Images for WarnerMedia and Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

The Academy Award-winning Washington said very few people knew Boseman was battling colon cancer, which would ultimately take his life just months after the filming of Ma Rainey‘s ended.

“It’s fascinating that nobody knew,” Washington said. “Well, credit to him; he kept it to himself. It was nobody’s business. He was there to deliver, and he delivered.”

Read More: Karl-Anthony Towns breaks down in tears at 1st game since mom’s death

“Certain members of his team knew. His wife was there. They weren’t even married yet,” he added. “And I used to watch how she took care of him, and I actually said to him, I said, ‘Man, you know, you need to put a ring on that finger’ ’cause she kept her eye on him, and she watched him. And I’m like, man, she loves that guy.”

Washington’s advice was apparently heeded. Boseman and Ledward were married before the actor’s passing in August.

Read More: Too Short and E-40 set for last Verzuz battle of the year

Last month, Ledward was granted the authority to administer Boseman’s estate.

During a 2019 speech at the 50th NAACP Image Awards, Boseman thanked Ledward while accepting a prize for outstanding actor in a motion picture for his portrayal of King T’Challah in Black Panther.

Read More: Baltimore Ravens player Calais Campbell, Rockefeller Foundation launch Black biz fund

“Simone, you’re with me every day. I have to acknowledge you right now. Love you,” Boseman said in his speech as Ledward mouthed back the words, “I love you.”

The younger actor may have been moved to take Washington’s advice due to the elder film star’s support of his career since his early days as a theater student at Howard University.

Read More: Protesters rally to save a Black family’s home

In October, one of Boseman’s former instructors, Phylicia Rashad, confirmed that Washington had paid for him and several other students to study at Oxford.

“As fate would have it, I was one of the students that he paid for,” Boseman said. “Imagine receiving the letter that your tuition for that summer was paid for and that your benefactor was none other than the dopest actor on the planet.”

Have you subscribed to theGrio’s “Dear Culture” podcast? Download our newest episodes now!
TheGrio is now on Apple TV, Amazon Fire and Roku. Download today!