Denzel Washington Once Paid for Chadwick Boseman's Acting Classes

Chadwick Boseman and Denzel Washington shared a special connection even before the Black Panther star made it big. Boseman died on Friday after a four-year battle with colon cancer. He was 43.

Following news of his death, Washington honored the late actor, whom he helped pay for his acting program years before Boseman made a name for himself in Hollywood.

“He was a gentle soul and a brilliant artist, who will stay with us for eternity through his iconic performances over his short yet illustrious career. God bless Chadwick Boseman,” the Oscar winner expressed in a statement given to ET.

In a 2018 Rolling Stone interview, Boseman revealed that Washington helped pay for his and a couple of other Howard University students’ acting programs at England’s Oxford University. The Cosby Show star Phylicia Rashad was one of Boseman’s professors and had reached out to celebrity friends, including Washington, to ask to sponsor students.

After news broke, in a 2018 interview with Stephen Colbert, Washington joked that he expected the actor to pay him back.

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Boseman also thanked Washington in a speech during the Malcolm X star’s American Film Institute’s Lifetime Achievement Award ceremony in 2019.

“Many of you already know the story that Mr. Washington, when asked by Phylicia Rashad to join her in assisting nine theater students from Howard University who had been accepted to a summer acting program at the British Academy of Dramatic Acting in Oxford, gracefully and privately agreed to contribute,” Boseman recalled. “As fate would have it, I was one of the students that he paid for…Imagine receiving the letter that your tuition for that summer was paid for and that your benefactor was none other than the dopest actor on the planet.”

“There is no Black Panther without Denzel Washington,” he noted.

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Washington, meanwhile, also served as producer on one of Boseman’s final films before his death, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. Upon news of his death, Netflix canceled a Monday preview of the movie, which is set to be released later this year.

Directed by George C. Wolfe, the drama is based on the play of the same name by August Wilson, and tells the story of “Mother of the Blues” Ma Rainey (Viola Davis) during a 1927 recording session.

“Chicago, 1927. A recording session. Tensions rise between Ma Rainey, her ambitious horn player and the white management determined to control the uncontrollable ‘Mother of the Blues,'” the logline reads.

Davis also took to Instagram to express her heartbreak over Boseman’s death, writing, “Chadwick…..no words to express my devastation of losing you. Your talent, your spirit, your heart, your authenticity……..It was an honor working beside you, getting to know you….Rest well prince…May flights of angels sing thee to thy heavenly rest. I love you! 💛💛💛. My heart cannot take 2020! Please God no more!!!”

Chadwick…..no words to express my devastation of losing you. Your talent, your spirit, your heart, your authenticity……..It was an honor working beside you, getting to know you….Rest well prince…May flights of angels sing thee to thy heavenly rest. I love you! 💛💛💛 My heart cannot take 2020! Please God no more!!!

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Boseman’s other Ma Rainey’s other co-stars, Colman Domingo, Taylour Paige and Glynn Turman, also honored the late actor on their social media.

My friend Chad is on the far left. We created something beautiful together. His last film Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. The film wrestles with God. We wrestled with August Wilson’s text. We wrestled with music. We wrestled with faith. We shared such a loving brotherhood since the first time we did a reading together many moons ago at New York Stage and Film. Each time I always thought, he was such a shy, cool, kinda strange intellectual brother. Knowing him on the journey of Ma was a true gift. I will miss him and honor his incredible legacy that he built in 43 years. Goodnight friend.

A post shared by Colman Domingo (@kingofbingo) on

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Our ancestor August Wilson brought us together, now you’re with him among all else pure and THEE great. Great is you. Who you’ve been to US. You cared so much. It is immeasurable what I learned from you. We would rehearse rehearse rehearse. We’d try again. We’d try it this way and that way again. we’d play and laugh with George and try again and fail. We PLAYED. We are only afforded so many roles to play. I was so happy to lend myself to the bigger part of it with YOU. I was so in awe of all of you. You used everything God gave you. You helped me feel good about my desire to find the freedom in our scenes. You supported my innate desire to play. Helped not overthink it so damn much. You blessed us all beyond belief. Beyond. Fly on beautiful ancestor. thank you. I know you’ll wrap beautiful Taylor and your family in your grace. You were grace personified. I am so honored to be your Dussie Mae. You are forever my Levee. You are forever our king. Wakanda forever. ♾ love you forever Chadwick. see you again boundlessly.

A post shared by Taylour Paige (@taylour) on

Our ancestor August Wilson brought us together, now you’re with him among all else pure and THEE great. Great is you. Who you’ve been to US. You cared so much. It is immeasurable what I learned from you. We would rehearse rehearse rehearse. We’d try again. We’d try it this way and that way again. we’d play and laugh with George and try again and fail. We PLAYED. We are only afforded so many roles to play. I was so happy to lend myself to the bigger part of it with YOU. I was so in awe of all of you. You used everything God gave you. You helped me feel good about my desire to find the freedom in our scenes. You supported my innate desire to play. Helped not overthink it so damn much. You blessed us all beyond belief. Beyond. Fly on beautiful ancestor. thank you. I know you’ll wrap beautiful Taylor and your family in your grace. You were grace personified. I am so honored to be your Dussie Mae. You are forever my Levee. You are forever our king. Wakanda forever. ♾ love you forever Chadwick. see you again boundlessly.

A post shared by Taylour Paige (@taylour) on

When I listen to the rain I’ll hear you. R.I.P. my talented friend. pic.twitter.com/qtRKOFySOg

Additionally, Ted Sarandos, Netflix Co-CEO and Chief Content Officer, also said in a statement: “Chadwick was a superhero on screen and in life, and it’s impossible to imagine working at the level he has while valiantly battling his illness. His legacy as a person and an artist will inspire millions. Our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family during this difficult time.”

For more on Boseman’s death, see below.

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