Lupita Nyong’o on filming ‘Wakanda Forever’ without Chadwick Boseman: ‘Losing your centerpiece, everything changed’

The Academy Award-winning actress sat down with The Hollywood Reporter ahead of the theatrical release of the "Black Panther" sequel.

In a recent cover story, Lupita Nyong’o opened up about her acting career thus far, the emotional and healing work she is doing, the cast of the upcoming “Black Panther” sequel and how they were able to move forward without their on-and offscreen hero, Chadwick Boseman.

“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” is just weeks away from hitting movie screens, reuniting fans with that Afro-futuristic world and the thrilling characters they came to love in the first film, as well as in Marvel’s wider “Avengers” franchise.

Judging by the two trailers that have been released, it is clear the film will deal with the loss of T’Challa, a meta decision informed by the loss of Chadwick Boseman in 2020 after his private battle with colon cancer. Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Nyong’o reflected on some of the times that she spent with Boseman.

The World Premiere Of Universal Pictures' "NOPE" - Arrivals
Lupita Nyong’o, at the world premiere of “Nope” in July 2022, said filming “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” without the late Chadwick Boseman was a complicated experience. (Photo by JC Olivera/Getty Images)

“There were moments when Chadwick said ‘no’ to me, and I was not happy with him,” she told the outlet. “I fought tooth and nail to change his mind, and he would ever so quietly be like, ‘I know, but no,’ with love.”

Referring to a specific instance, when she wanted him to accompany her and Danai Gurira to South Africa to promote the first “Black Panther” film, she explained, “I felt it was important to have him on the continent, as an African American coming to South Africa. I thought that was a potent symbol, and he wouldn’t go. Now I understand he was battling cancer and probably had medical reasons. I tried everything. I tried charm. I debated him on the political front, and he smiled, he sighed, and he was just like, ‘I know, Lupita. I can’t go.’”

Nyong’o revealed that moving forward with the sequel without Boseman was a big adjustment for “Black Panther” franchise cast and creatives. “Losing your centerpiece, everything changed,” she said. “When you say the world rotated around him, it revolved around him, it did.” 

She continued, “Every time I thought about what the next ‘Black Panther’ could be, my imagination fell short. Even just talking about ‘Black Panther’ in the midst of still grieving Chadwick, it was really complicated emotionally to do.”

As for Ryan Coogler’s script for the new film, Nyong’o uses the word, “honor,” to describe it. “Ryan wrote something that so honored the truth of what every one of us was feeling, those of us who knew Chadwick,” she explained. “He created something that could honor that and carry the story forward. By the end, I was weeping.”

In the cover story, the actress also dives deep into her career, her early arts education, how she deals with fame and more. Check out the full feature here.

“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” hits U.S. theaters on Nov. 11.

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