Chadwick Boseman Was a Strong Man and Daring Actor, Says 'Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom' Co-Star Glynn Turman

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As the world mourns Chadwick Boseman’s untimely passing to colon cancer, many of his family, friends, fans and co-stars have shared their memories with him. Included among them is Veteran actor Glynn Turman, who told Inside Edition Digital the "Black Panther" and "42" star made a deep impression on him while they worked together on one of Boseman's last films, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom." 

"Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" is an upcoming drama based on August Wilson's Pulitzer Prize-winning play of the same name. It centers on Ma Rainey, one of the earliest Black professional blues singers who is billed as the "Mother of the Blues." Viola Davis stars as Rainey as she engaged in a battle of wills with her white manager and producer over control of her music during a recording session in Chicago in 1928.

Boseman plays Levee and Turman plays Toledo, Rainey's band players in the film adaption, which was directed by George C. Wolfe and produced by Denzel Washington. The film is reportedly slated to release this year, but Netflix has not revealed if Boseman's death will impact the date. A preview event for the film scheduled this week was canceled in the wake of his passing. 

Turman, whose credits include “The Wire,” “Cooley High,” “Super 8,” and “The Defenders,” said working with Boseman was much more than just acting.

“He took his craft as far as he could take it. He was a daring actor,” Turman told Inside Edition Digital. “The ‘it’ factor, what we talk so much about. Chadwick had it, you know? And so it was a joy to work with him. It was a pleasure.”

It was Boseman's choices as an actor that drew Turman in, he said.

“If you were to compare him to a musician, say a jazz musician, Thelonious Monk comes to mind, who was always on the edge of improvisation, and on the edge of daring. And not afraid to take risk,” he said. “And I was drawn to him as a result of his choices when we worked together.”

The “How to Get Away with Murder” actor says that when he first laid eyes on Boseman in “42,” the actor’s breakout role as Jackie Robinson, he knew he had something special. By the time “Black Panther” had its success, Turman says that Boseman “was our superhero,” because now Black children and future generations had a hero that looked like them on screen.

“So what I wonder is, who will step up to be the next superhero? And we must do it quickly before that door closes. Because it took so long to open it, and thank God Chadwick Boseman stepped through the way he did, but it's open now. And so we must step on through, keep on stepping,” he said.

While it remains unclear as to who knew about Boseman’s battle with colon cancer, Turman said that the “Black Panther” star had superhuman strength on set.

“I witnessed it, and was really impressed by how physically strong and fit he was,” he said. “But now to realize that he was not only that strong, that fit, while fighting the battle that he was fighting, and under the care of doctors, and so on and so forth, the medicines that drain you. How did he summon such courage, and such strength to physically overcome what he had to for the moment, to put it on screen, and come off as he does on screen?”

Working with Boseman was one of the best experiences Turman has had in this business, he said, making it difficult to grapple with what has happened.

“That's what makes it so sad for me because, as the old veteran in the game, I can have my eye on the youngsters, the young performers coming up. And when I spot one that has it, the it factor, what we talk so much about. Chadwick had it, you know?" he said. "And so it was a joy to work with him. It was a pleasure, because you knew that the craft was being turned over into good hands."

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