Updated: Mar 2, 2021
When Chadwick Boseman arrived in Pittsburgh in 2019 to film the August Wilson adaptation “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” his castmates didn’t know that he’d been privately battling cancer for three years. But costar Colman Domingo remembers what Boseman said as the “Black Panther” star prepared to pour his all into the incendiary role that would mark his final screen performance: “He said, ‘I can’t wait to dance with you, Colman.’”
Boseman, who died in August at the age of 43, commits a fiery and enthralling turn to the 1920s-set “Ma Rainey” as Levee, the talented and ambitious cornet player in a band hired to back blues legend Gertrude “Ma” Rainey (Viola Davis) as she records her latest album.
As the afternoon session unfolds in the film, now available on Netflix, music soars, tempers flare and tensions rise between band members, while Ma battles a white manager and producer trying to squeeze another hit record out of her. Directed by George C. Wolfe from a screenplay by Ruben Santiago-Hudson, the film is dedicated to Boseman “in celebration of his artistry and heart” and could nab him a posthumous Oscar nomination for best actor.