Entertainment Movies Viola Davis Says She 'Broke Down' When She Heard Ma Rainey Costar Chadwick Boseman Had Died Chadwick Boseman died in August at 43 after a four-year battle with colon cancer By Ale Russian Published on December 18, 2020 11:28 AM Share Tweet Pin Email Trending Videos Viola Davis and Chadwick Boseman in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. Photo: Netflix Chadwick Boseman's Ma Rainey's Black Bottom costar Viola Davis saw something special in the late actor. The two shared the screen for what would become Boseman's final film before he died of colon cancer in August at 43 years old. Boseman kept his four-year battle so private that most people were unaware of his illness, including Davis. In an interview with Yahoo Entertainment, Davis admits to breaking down when she heard about his death, but refuses to say it's tragic. “I broke down when I heard he passed," she said. "Lord knows we all would’ve wanted him to live another 50 years. We all want longevity. But I can’t see his life tragically at all. … Because I felt like he was always living in the moment, squeezing out every bit of life. What it makes me think is, it’s not the quantity, it’s the quality.” “What I hold onto with Chad is that he lived his life his way,” Davis said. “I would say his professional life as absolutely paralleled his personal life, that’s my guess, in terms of how he lived with the utmost integrity.” Chadwick Boseman Will Be 'Remembered as a Hero,' Says Ma Rainey's Black Bottom Costar Viola Davis Chadwick Boseman in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. NETFLIX Her new comments echo an earlier interview in which she called Boseman a "hero." The actor played a significant role for the Black community around the world when he starred as Black Panther in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but that's not why Davis labeled him so. "I think he is going to be remembered as a hero," Davis told The Guardian in a recent interview. "There's a part of the public that's gonna associate that with Black Panther; I do not," she continued. "I associate that with his authenticity, especially in the midst of a profession that sometimes can suck that out of you." The Oscar winner, 55, said Boseman "was a person who lived a life bigger than themselves." "I think that his legacy, his body of work, his integrity, is going to influence on generations upon generations to come," Davis added. Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, featuring Boseman's last performance onscreen, is streaming on Netflix now.