Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman died on Friday at the age of 43 

By Ally Mauch
August 29, 2020 04:15 PM
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Denzel Washington is remembering Chadwick Boseman as a “gentle soul,” years after paying for the late actor’s tuition in a prestigious theater program.

"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,” Washington, 65, said in a statement following Boseman’s death on Friday. “God bless Chadwick Boseman.”

Boseman died at the age of 43 following a years-long battle with colon cancer, his family said in a statement on social media.

Washington served as a producer on one of the last films Boseman worked on before his death, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. But his connection to the Black Panther star goes much deeper — he once quietly paid for Boseman, and several of his Howard University classmates, to attend an acting program at England’s Oxford University.

Last year, Boseman shared the full story while honoring Washington before the Malcolm X actor accepted the American Film Institute’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

“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 said in June 2019.

Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images; Emma McIntyre/Getty Images

“As fate would have it, I was one of the students that he paid for,” he continued. “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,” Boseman later added.

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On the Oscars red carpet a year prior, Boseman opened up about the moment when he finally got a chance to thank Washington for his support.

“It was a fun conversation. The first thing he said was, ‘You owe me money! I came to collect!’” Boseman recalled to ABC’s Michael Strahan at the time. “It was so deep, I can’t even go into it right now. We sort of just talked about what’s been happening, what’s about to happen.”