Netflix to Campaign Chadwick Boseman as Lead Actor in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom for Awards Season
The Black Panther star will appear in the upcoming Netflix film posthumously
Chadwick Boseman is getting a chance to leave one last impression on the upcoming awards season.
On Wednesday, Netflix confirmed to Variety their plan to campaign the late star as the lead actor in the upcoming film Ma Rainey's Black Bottom.
Boseman appears in the film posthumously, following his death on Aug. 28 after a private four-year battle with colon cancer. He was 43. The film marks the beloved actor's last time appearing on the screen.
Ma Rainey's Black Bottom is based on August Wilson's 1982 play about the "Mother of Blues" Ma Rainey (Viola Davis) and her experience with white management at the time. The movie takes place in 1927 Chicago and explores the racial tension in the music world as white record executives profited off of Black artists.
It was adapted by Ruben Santiago-Hudson and produced by Todd Black and Denzel Washington, who once paid for Boseman and some of his Howard University classmates to attend acting school at Oxford University.
In the film, Boseman plays troubled trumpet player Levee, who vies for his own spot in the music world. Netflix recently released the first trailer for the film, showing Boseman in his vivacious last role.
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Many fans of the original Broadway production have often considered the character of Levee as the co-lead to Ma Rainey. During the original 1984 production, starring Theresa Merritt and Charles S. Dutton as Ma Rainey and Levee, respectively, both were nominated in the featured actor and featured actress categories at the Tony Awards.
In addition to a potential Oscar nomination for Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, Boseman will also be considered for best supporting actor in Spike Lee's Da 5 Bloods.
Should he be nominated for best actor, Boseman will be the first posthumous nominee in the category since Massimo Troisi for 1995’s Il Postino. If he is nominated for best supporting actor, he would become the third person in Oscar history to do so, following Ralph Richardson in 1984’s Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes and Heath Ledger in 2008’s The Dark Knight.
Ma Rainey's Black Bottom starts streaming on Netflix on Dec. 18.