Before the cast and crew began shooting the upcoming, they visited Chadwick Boseman's resting place to pay tribute to the late actor who starred in the 2018 movie. To Winston Duke, who portrays M'Baku in the films, that was an important moment to bond and process Boseman's death.
"It was just our own chance to say goodbye, because it all happened so suddenly," Duke told "CBS Mornings" on Monday. "When it all happened, none of us knew he was even sick."
Boseman was 43 years when hefollowing a private battle with cancer. He portrayed the Black Panther, T'Challa, king of the fictional African nation of Wakanda, in the first movie.
The sequel, "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever," serves as a moving tribute to the beloved actor and his character. Duke said it was "incredibly difficult" to work on the film while everyone's hearts were still heavy. He also addressed the pressure of filming a sequel after the tremendous success of the first movie and doing so during a pandemic.
"Black Panther," directed by Ryan Coogler, smashed box office records when it was released in 2018. The film grossed more than $1 billion, the most by any Black filmmaker, and it's the 14th highest-grossing movie of all time.
The sequel, set to be released Nov. 11, is expected to be one of the biggest movies of the year, and early reviews are calling it one of Marvel's best films ever.
"This movie is so much," Duke said. "It's very heartfelt. We're dealing with the legacy of Chadwick Boseman, and the loss of Chadwick, and the loss of the character T'Challa, so everyone in the movie is dealing with that grief."
Duke's character, who is the Jabari tribe leader, is known for his humor, which helps break some of the tension, the actor said.
"M'Baku serves almost as that little valve on the pressure cooker that lets some of the steam out," he said. "So it gets everyone to laugh a little bit by telling some of the truths that people are not ready to hear."
Boseman's deathas he had not publicly disclosed his cancer diagnosis. Duke recalled the moment he got the news while driving home from a store.
"My sister called and just said, 'Are you sitting down?'" Duke said. "And she said, 'Chadwick passed.' And I was like, 'Chadwick who? Because the Chadwick I know is a young, healthy, spry guy.'"
As the cast and crew members dealt with that loss while filming the sequel, they were given the time to grieve whenever they needed, Duke said.
"What came out of that was a community where everyone understood what you're going through," he said.
"The thing about grief is that it hits you in waves. On any given day, for any given reason, something might trigger you and any person might be going through that. So there was a lot of unspoken understanding on that set," he said.
Duke also said it "felt secondary" to walk into the set while the world was still in a pandemic. As for the high bar the first movie set, he said it was important to detach himself from any expectations given how much the first "Black Panther" movie meant to the world.
"It was this huge watershed moment that gave people permission to dream again, to see themselves in the present as great, and beautiful and powerful," he said. "I said, 'It couldn't be that again, it could never be that again because it can never be the first time again...' But it can be special and that's exactly what it delivers."
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