Chadwick Boseman: In honour of an artist
Through his phenomenal but tragically short-lived career, Chadwick Boseman has left an indelible mark on the world of cinema and pop-culture. Whether you know him best for playing Jackie Robinson in 42, James Brown in Get on Up or Wakandan hero T’Challa within the MCU (a role that would change the face of superhero blockbusters forever), Boseman has undoubtedly left a lasting impression on the millions who’ve witnessed his acting might. To him and everyone who knew him best, though, this man wasn’t just an actor, he was an artist – and a great one at that.
His legacy has been paid tribute to in short Netflix special Chadwick Bosman: Portrait of an Artist. While only clocking in at twenty minutes, the feature nevertheless draws attention to what made the thespian so good at his craft and offers a fascinating glimpse into his acting process. Directors and co-stars who’ve worked with him – including Viola Davis and Spike Lee – break down and analyse notes he made in his script for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and share anecdotes about the dedication he gave to each of his roles.
This special is less a biography than a video essay; it’s an introductory masterclass into how the late artist approached his craft with passion and intelligence. It underscores the finer details of how he understood scenes and characters that will give audiences a greater appreciation of what he was able to accomplish, inviting viewers to rewatch his filmography just to absorb every nuance and inflection he’s made.
While Black Panther is arguably the star’s most well-known role, Portrait of an Artist only briefly mentions this part of his career in passing. Instead, the role that gets the most focus is that of downtrodden jazz musician Levee in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (a performance that has earned him a posthumous Oscar nomination amongst other accolades). For what would become his final performance before his passing in 2020, it would also become his finest. Every ounce of Boseman’s soul and being is poured into bringing this character to life for the screen as raw, honest and human as possible. Without any hyperbole, this performance will be studied for generations as an example of acting genius.
An accomplished performer, brilliant artist and immortalised legend, Chadwick Boseman’s legacy will be retained in his work to be adored by future audiences for as long as they exist.
Chadwick Boseman: Portrait of an Artist is released on Netflix on 17th April 2021.
Watch the trailer for Chadwick Boseman: Portrait of An Artist here: