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Netflix Just Released a Trailer for Chadwick Boseman's Last Movie

The late actor kept working throughout his illness, so his final performance is yet to be seen.

In late August, the entertainment industry and fans alike were stunned when the Black Panther star's family announced that Chadwick Boseman had died of colon cancer. The Marvel actor was only 43 years old and had been privately fighting the disease for four years while continuing to work. And though Black Panther 2 had yet to start filming when the actor passed, fans still have another virtuoso performance to look forward to. Chadwick Boseman's last movie, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, will be coming to Netflix on December 18, and the streaming service just released the first trailer.

Keep reading for everything we know so far about this highly anticipated final performance.

It's based on a classic American play and stars Viola Davis.

Viola Davis

Filming was completed last summer Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, which is an adaptation of the August Wilson play of the same name. Viola Davis plays the eponymous character in the 1920s-set film—a real trailblazing blues singer who wants to control her music and her career. Boseman costars as Levee, an ambitious and volatile young trumpet player in her band. Ma Rainey's is part of a 10-play cycle by Wilson, all set in a different decade of the 20th century and all centering Black characters and stories.

During a preview event on October 19, Davis, who also worked with Boseman in Get on Up, the James Brown biopic, expressed her fondness for her late costar. "Not to compete with Chadwick's mother, but he was my baby," she said, according to Deadline. "Chadwick was an artist. That is just what he was… he loved it, he demanded it in every single way. For someone so young it was incredible to watch."

It's produced by Denzel Washington.

Denzel Washington
Jamie Lamor Thompson/Shutterstock

Critical to getting the film made was Denzel Washington, who directed and starred in (with Davis as well) a 2016 feature film adaptation of Wilson's Fences, another play in the series. Ma Rainey's is part of Washington's deal with Netflix to adapt the other nine plays in the playwright's "Pittsburgh Cycle."

It's not Boseman's only connection to Washington.

Chadwick Boseman at Denzel Washington event
Shutterstock/Kathy Hutchins

Long before the younger actor played Jackie Robinson, James Brown, or the King of Wakanda, Washington covered his tuition for a prestigious acting intensive. When actress Phylicia Rashad was teaching at Howard University, Boseman and several other students were accepted into a British American Drama Academy's Midsummer program. They were going to decline as they couldn't pay the fee, but Rashad reached out to Washington, who agreed to foot the bill. Boseman recounted the story as part of his speech at the American Film Institute's Lifetime Achievement tribute to Washington, saying, "imagine … that your benefactor was none other than the dopest actor on the planet." (Boseman, it seems, was paying it forward. One of the stories that went viral as social media mourned him was from a drama bookshop employee who witnessed the star giving advice to an aspiring Black actor and then secretly purchasing a stack of books for him.)

This first look was delayed due to Boseman's death.

Chadwick Boseman

In the wake of his death, Netflix indefinitely postponed an Aug. 31 virtual preview event for Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. According to Variety, it was to include a Q&A with Davis and director George C. Wolfe, but Boseman was not scheduled to appear.

"We are heartbroken over today's news of the passing of Chadwick Boseman, a 'true fighter' as his family called him in their poignant tribute," the Netflix statement reads. "This is an incredible loss … Please join us in sending your thoughts to his family and loved ones."

Wolfe, Davis, and Washington also issued statements of heartfelt condolence, along with countless colleagues and fans. As noted earlier, the virtual event took place in mid-October, the same date Netflix released the trailer and premiere date.

Considering the talent and experience involved—as well as Fences' four Oscar nominations and one win (for Davis)—this forthcoming Wilson adaptation will likely be an awards contender with possible posthumous honors for the mourned actor.

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Sage Young
Sage Young is the Deputy Entertainment Editor at Best Life, expanding and honing our coverage in this vertical by managing a team of industry-obsessed writers. Read more
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