Chadwick Boseman, the actor who brought Jackie Robinson to a modern audience in the 2013 film ‘42,’ has died after a battle with colon cancer. He was 43.
Boseman’s death came on the same day MLB celebrated Jackie Robinson Day in honor of the color barrier-breaking Brooklyn Dodgers star, with every player wearing Robinson’s No. 42.
The news was confirmed through Boseman’s Twitter account following an initial report from the Associated Press.
According to the statement, Boseman was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer in 2016 and battled it for four years as it progressed to stage 4. He died at home, surrounded by his wife and family.
Boseman was Jackie Robinson, Black Panther and so many more
After years working mostly as a TV actor, Boseman’s found his breakout role as Robinson in ‘42.’ His portrayal of the legend’s unwavering resolve and private frustrations as he broke baseball’s color barrier earned widespread acclaim.
We are devastated by the tragic loss of Chadwick Boseman. His transcendent performance in “42” will stand the test of time and serve as a powerful vehicle to tell Jackie’s story to audiences for generations to come. pic.twitter.com/8oU7QpdLSE— MLB (@MLB) August 29, 2020
It was a role that came with enormous pressure for the little-known actor, via Vanity Fair:
I definitely felt the responsibility going into it. I felt more responsibility to [Jackie’s widow] Rachel Robinson than I did to anyone else. Everyone had their own opinions and reasons why he is a hero to them. People would meet me, call me, text me, e-mail me, Facebook-message me, and tell me, “I hear you’re playing my hero.” When that happens, you know that all of those people are going to have an opinion and feelings that you have to live up to. But I just thought, Let me just focus on the truth.
If you think about him being an icon and a hero anyway, that actually is the pitfall in playing the role. It’s the biggest pitfall you can fall into because he didn’t know that he was going to be an icon. He didn’t know that he was going to be a hero. In fact, [Jackie] has to deal with that heroism throughout the movie when he finds out that [being in Major League baseball] is a bigger deal to everyone than he thought it would be. You can’t completely block out that feeling of responsibility, but you can focus the same way he did—one thing at a time, moment to moment. Eventually all the pieces will be there.
After “42,” Boseman went on to play the likes of James Brown in “Get on Up” and a star football player in “Draft Day” in 2014. Even after his cancer diagnosis in 2016, Boseman breathed life into the iconic Black Panther in three Marvel movies, ending with “Avengers: Endgame” in 2019. He also played Thurgood Marshall in “Marshall.” His most recent film role was Vietnam War soldier Norman Earl “Stormin' Norm” Holloway in Spike Lee’s critically acclaimed “Da 5 Bloods.”
Per IMDB, Boseman has one more completed film to be released, an adaptation of the play “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” by August Wilson.
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