Chadwick Boseman’s final film, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, is based on Pulitzer Prize winner, August Wilson’s play. This story was the second of 10 plays in Wilson’s “Pittsburgh Cycle.”
The official trailer for the late actor’s final film was released on October 19, 2020.
In the trailer, Boseman’s character, Levee, shouts to his band members that there is no need to worry because they do not know how he is built.
“You don’t know nothing about what kind of blood I got, what kind of heart I got beating here,” said Levee.
This line means much more after Boseman’s death at age 43 of colon cancer during the post-production of the film.
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is produced by Denzel Washington, who directed and starred in Wilson’s adaptation of “Fences,” which also featured Viola Davis in one of the lead roles.
Set in 1927 Chicago during the summer, Viola Davis is playing the southern singer, Ma Rainey, known as the “Mother of Blues” while Boseman plays her ambitious trumpeter, Levee.
Rainy will be in constant conflict with the white ownership of clubs she performs at, while Levee encourages his band to put a spin on Ma’s old-fashioned songs in hopes of launching his career.
During the production of the film, Boseman suffered in silence while he managed his colon cancer and acting career.
In an interview with the New York Times, Viola Davis, who is starring as Ma Rainey, said she remembered that Boseman had a team around him to help him perform at a high level, even though she didn’t know Boseman had colon cancer.
“I look at his beautiful, unbelievable team that was meditating over him and massaging him, and I now realize everything they were trying to infuse in him to keep him going and working at his optimal level. And he received it,” Davis said.
Michael Greene, Boseman’s agent, told the Hollywood Reporter that he was in unrelenting pain during the process of filming Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.
“He was really in hardcore pain but felt that being able to be with Denzel (Washington) and to launch this cycle of August Wilson at Netflix was so exciting to him,” Greene said.
Although he was constantly suffering, he managed to finish the production of the film.
This role will be an eye-opener for fans who only know Boseman as the philosophic and calm superhero T’Challa. Levee brings a certain level of energy to screen with his charismatic personality.
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom was nominated for Best Play at the 1985 Tony Awards, and Charles S. Dutton earned a Tony Nomination for his Broadway debut as Levee.
With Boseman’s performance as Levee, he could be a contender for a posthumous Oscar.
Additionally, Boseman may receive a posthumous best supporting actor nomination for his role in Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods.
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom will be in select theaters in November and released Dec. 18 on Netflix.