On Wednesday (Sept 30), the streaming powerhouse took to social media to share the images along with the release date to the film, which is produced by legendary actor Denzel Washington and directed by George C. Wolfe, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom stars Viola Davis and the late Chadwick Boseman in his final film performance.
During an interview with the New York Times, both Davis and Washington recall their time working with Boseman on the film recalling his phenomenal stage presence and work ethic.
“He did a brilliant job, and he’s gone,” said Denzel Washington. “I still can’t believe it.”
Chadwick Boseman, who passed in August after a private battle with stage 4 colon cancer, has been remembered by several colleagues as a genuine soul, but Viola Davis says that Boseman’s personal presence and determination exceeds anything that anyone could describe of him and his tenacious work ethic.
“A lot of actors mistake their presence for the event,” Davis said. “An actor of Chadwick’s status usually comes on and it’s their ego who comes on before them: This is what they want, this is what they’re not going to do. That was absolutely, 150 percent off the table with Chadwick. He could completely discard whatever ego he had, whatever vanity he had, and welcome Levee in.”
The Academy Award-winning actress also touched on how exhausted Boseman seemed during the filming process before noting how his team supported him throughout filming without ever revealing his diagnosis.
“I’m looking back at how tired he always seemed,” Davis continued. “I look at his beautiful, unbelievable team that was meditating over him and massaging him, and I now realize everything they were trying to infuse in him to keep him going and working at his optimal level. And he received it.”
Netflix’s hotly-anticipated film adaptation of August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom stars Davis as the titular Ma Rainey, a Black singer dubbed the “Mother of Blues,” as she deals with white music-industry execs. Boseman plays her trumpet player “Levee”, who wants to put a contemporary spin on Ma Rainey’s songs. While the film has not been formally reviewed, Buchanan referred to Boseman’s performance as “a revelation” before adding that his interpretation of the character “Levee” is “practically assured of Oscar recognition,” adding that the final performance is “Boseman’s finest screen performance.”
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom officially releases on Netflix, December 18, 2020.