Winston Duke is opening up about how his late Black Panther co-star, Chadwick Boseman, was a hero and a role model who gave him “direction” and made him feel like he belonged. Boseman died at the age of 43 following a battle with colon cancer. His death was confirmed on Friday.
On Monday, Duke, who portrayed M’Baku alongside Boseman’s T’Challa in the Marvel movie, posted a photo of the two actors smiling, alongside a heartfelt caption on Instagram.
Still in shock at the loss of his “friend and hero,” Duke, 33, said he felt devastated, sick and in pain over Boseman’s death. He then explained what a powerful impact Boseman had on his life and career.
“Chadwick was a lightning rod for me... he gave me direction...” Duke shared. “When I saw ‘42’, I said, I could be like THIS guy. I knew I belonged because I could see myself in you... that’s what heroes do... they seem familiar because they make it possible for us to see our potential best selves demonstrated through them...”
“Through seeing Chad’s work, I was able to say, ‘I could be just like you one day’ and when I saw you in person for the first time... at my audition for Black Panther, you acknowledged me and my dream by saying, ‘he’s ready’!” he continued. “Man, your words that day made me feel like my dream was finally real!”
Duke then reflected on how Boseman continued to leave his mark once the movie started filming, by being the greatest leading man, who made everyone on set feel “safe, open and bold.” He also put time and effort into working with Duke one-on-one, so they could perfect their scenes before filming together.
“Chadwick, Thank you!” he wrote. “Chadwick, you are the best...you are me and I’m you and we are all one! Thanks for being someone I could look up to on and off screen ... your calm confidence was inspiring and exemplary. Thanks for sharing with me... you go ahead ...you did your job and did it well!”
“You will NEVER be forgotten,” Duke concluded. “Your heroism is now legend. We’ll carry the load and honor your legacy, the rest of the way! Bless King! #chadwickboseman #wakandaforever.”
Duke’s post comes one day after another Black Panther co-star, Danai Gurira, also described Boseman as a hero in a lengthy Instagram tribute.
“He had a heroic spirit, and marched to the beat of his own drum; hence his excellence as an artist and the incredible courage and determination as he faced life’s challenges; while still guiding us all,” she wrote about the actor, who is survived by his wife, Taylor Simone Ledward.