Finding inspiration. In Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Lupita Nyong’o plays the grieving lover of T’Challa, the character played by the late Chadwick Boseman, but in reality, the actress turned to Boseman’s widow, Simone Ledward Boseman, for inspiration.
“It was very hard to lose Chadwick, [but] he was not to me what he was to Nakia,” the Oscar winner, 39, told The Hollywood Reporter in an interview published on Saturday, November 19. “So I couldn’t even imagine what it would be like to go on after losing the love of your life.”
Nyong’o explained that she took inspiration from Simone, 32, after seeing her at Chadwick’s memorial service. The leading man died in August 2020 after battling colon cancer. He was 43.
“I remember at his memorial service, bearing witness to Simone … and the strength that she possessed. I remember being so shocked because I was broken. She was so grounded, she was like an oak,” the actress recalled.
Nyong’o continued, “When I was getting ready for Nakia I thought about her a lot. Because she knew what we did not, in the same way Nakia seems to be a lot wiser and more sage with death and grief than I was.”
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever shows that Nakia left Africa years ago, and she didn’t even return for T’Challa’s funeral. She’d stepped away from life as a spy and settled down in Haiti. The film, which hit theaters on November 11, reveals that that much like how Simone was among the few to know Chadwick was battling colon cancer, Nakia was one of the only people aware that T’Challa was terminally ill.
Simone was among those thanked in the credits of Wakanda Forever, and director Ryan Coogler said he’d been in touch with her throughout the filmmaking process as they decided how to best honor the star.
“Chadwick had people who were in his life creatively, as well as family, and we were in close contact with those people, very close specifically with his wife, Simone, and his creative partner Logan Coles,” Coogler told THR in October.
“We were staying tapped in with them as much as we could, and it gave us the space to create, but obviously, we were seeking out their opinion all the time,” he continued. “We’re looking forward to sharing it with everybody.”
Simone attended the Los Angeles premiere of the sequel as well as a screening in Washington, D.C., that supported the Chadwick Boseman Foundation for the Arts.
Marvel Studios’ Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is in theaters now.