Danai Gurira is honoring her late friend and Black Panther costar Chadwick Boseman for his real-life heroism and inspiration.
"How do you honor a king? Reeling from the loss of my colleague, my friend, my brother. Struggling for words. Nothing feels adequate. I always marveled at how special Chadwick was. Such a pure-hearted, profoundly generous, regal, fun guy," the actress, 42, said in a statement on Instagram and Twitter on Sunday.
Boseman died on Friday at the age of 43 following a four-year private battle with colon cancer. His family confirmed his death in a statement shared on social media.
Gurira and Boseman starred in the 2018 blockbuster Black Panther in which she played Okoye, General of the Dora Milaje and the head of Wakandan armed forces, and he played T'Challa/Black Panther.
"My entire job as Okoye was to respect and protect a king. Honor his leadership. Chadwick made that job profoundly easy. He was the epitome of kindness, elegance, diligence and grace. On many an occasion I would think how thankful I was that he was the leading man I was working closely with," Gurira shared in her tribute. "A true class act. And so perfectly equipped to take on the responsibility of leading the franchise that changed everything for Black representation."
Along with a throwback photo of the pair hugging at an event promoting their Marvel film, she also shared an image of their set chairs placed side-by-side and labeled with their characters' names.
"He made everyone feel loved, heard and seen. He played great, iconic roles because he possessed inside of himself that connection to greatness to be able to so richly bring them to life. 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," Gurira said. "He was zen and sweet and funny (with the very best laugh), attentive, and truly, truly, good. I can't even wrap my mind around this loss. A loss resonating in my own heart as well as around the globe. The children he inspired, my heart aches for them, to lose their hero just as they finally found him. I am so thankful to have taken the Black Panther journey with him. To have known him, spent time in his light and leadership and to call him forever a friend."
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Gurira concluded her post with a phrase in Zulu. "Lala Ngoxolo Kumkani," she wrote, which is translated to: "Sleep in peace, O king."
A post shared by Danai Gurira (@danaigurira) on Aug 30, 2020 at 4:26pm PDT
Boseman was extremely private about his personal life, keeping his 2016 cancer diagnosis a secret until his death.
“Chadwick was diagnosed with stage III colon cancer in 2016, and battled with it these last 4 years as it progressed to stage IV,” his family wrote in their statement on social media Friday.
“A true fighter, Chadwick persevered through it all, and brought you many of the films you have come to love so much,” the statement continued. “From Marshall to Da 5 Bloods, August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and several more, all were filmed during and between countless surgeries and chemotherapy.”
The family also said, "It was the honor of his career to bring King T’Challa to life in Black Panther."
this hurts. really hurts— Letitia Wright (@letitiawright) August 30, 2020
Several of Gurira and Boseman's costars have paid tribute to the late actor since news of his death was made public.
"This hurts. really hurts," Letitia Wright tweeted on Sunday. Wright played Boseman's onscreen sister Shuri.
Angela Bassett, who played T’Challa’s mother Ramonda, penned a touching message on her Instagram page, sharing that she and Boseman had met many years before he became a star.
“It was meant to be for Chadwick and me to be connected, for us to be family. But what many don’t know is our story began long before his historic turn as Black Panther,” Bassett wrote. “During the premiere party for Black Panther, Chadwick reminded me of something. He whispered that when I received my honorary degree from Howard University, his alma mater, he was the student assigned to escort me that day.”
The actress added, "And here we were, years later as friends and colleagues, enjoying the most glorious night ever! We’d spent weeks prepping, working, sitting next to each other every morning in makeup chairs, preparing for the day together as mother and son. I am honored that we enjoyed that full circle experience. This young man’s dedication was awe-inspiring, his smile contagious, his talent unreal. So I pay tribute to a beautiful spirit, a consummate artist, a soulful brother...”thou aren’t not dead but flown afar...”. All you possessed, Chadwick, you freely gave. Rest now, sweet prince.’ #WakandaForever."
“Your light brightened our days,” Forest Whitaker, who played Zuri in Black Panther, added in another tribute. “It will continue to brighten our hearts and minds. Let the heavens be blessed as you illuminate the sky. Sending my love and prayers to the family. May god continue to hold you in his everlasting embrace. RIP Chadwick."
Sterling K. Brown, who also shared a screen with the actor in the 2017 film Marshall, wrote in his own tribute, “I don’t have words. Rest In Peace, Bruh. Thank you for all you did while you were here. Thank you for being a friend. You are loved. You will be missed.”
Disney has previously announced it is at work on a sequel to Black Panther, which is in the early stages of development.