'Black Panther's Winston Duke on Grieving His Mother's Recent Death and Chadwick Boseman (Exclusive)

Duke discussed the loss of both his co-star, Chadwick Boseman and his mother, while at the 'Wakanda Forever' premiere Tuesday.

Winston Duke is getting candid about grief. ET's Rachel Smith spoke to Duke who plays M'Baku in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, about coping with loss both off and on set -- first with his Black Panther co-star, Chadwick Boseman, and most recently, with his mother, who Duke said he lost less than three weeks ago.

"It's really hard, but I don't think he's not with us," Duke said when asked what it's been like to make the franchise's second installment without Boseman, who died in August 2020 after a battle with colon cancer. "His efforts and his work and his legacy is with us. We carry him with us in our hearts. On set, we never had a number one on the call sheet. It started at number two because, Chadwick, we saved a space for him the entire time."

He continued, "I always say that in death, the struggle is finding ways to hold onto people. In life, it's how to let go of people, whether they're good for you or not. In death, it's how do you hold on, and we hold onto him in our hearts, in our work, in how we approach life moving forward."

Tying superhero stories closely with the grief and loss their main characters often suffer, Duke shared that he drew not only from the loss of Boseman but also of his mother, who past just days ahead of the sequel's world premiere.

"I've realized in suffering a lot of loss myself, losing Chadwick, losing my mother maybe 20 days ago or so, I realize how intimately tied the narrative of superheroes and grief is," the 35-year-old actor shared before getting emotional. "And that's what really makes them strong and relatable and powerful. Who is Spider-Man without Uncle Ben? Who is Batman without his parents? Who is Superman without all of Krypton?"

"It's about loss and the triumph of coming through that," he added.

As for whether M'Baku could one day take on the title of the Black Panther, Duke said, it's not likely, but that he'd love to see the character continue to evolve and grow his superpowers.

"My character doesn't pray to Basts," Duke explained. "So, I don't know if that's a reality, but seeing him come into his own right as a full supporter, and practice of faith of Hanuman, would be incredible. Seeing him super-powered and fully evolved would be incredible."

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever his theaters Nov. 11.