The Black Panther cast opened up about how they grieved Chadwick Bosemen while filming the highly anticipated sequel. Bosemen, who starred as Black Panther and T'Challa, the king of Wakanda, died in 2020 after a private battle with colon cancer. Danai Gurira, Lupita Nyong'o, Letitia Wright and Florence Kasumba are among the stars who return in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, and they say stepping back on set was emotional as one might think.
"There was a lot of stillness, reflection, prayer and meditation to bolster me up as emotionally, mentally and spiritually as possible," Nyong'o tells the New York Times about how she prepared for the sequel. "It was a unique experience to step back into this world without our leader. When you have a sophomore film, there's a lot of expectation. But I think the loss of Chadwick kind of took all that away. I found myself having to radically accept that this was going to be different, and that showing up with as much openness as possible was key."
Wright, who plays T'Challa's sister, Shuri, agreed with Nyong'o and called the preparation process "a spiritual one."
"I remember connecting a lot with Danai. When we got to Atlanta [where filming took place], we went for a walk in the park and just sat with each other and processed what it meant to begin again and what it would take. The beautiful thing I found was that I wasn't alone. Coming back to the world of Wakanda, I felt like I had family that understood," she explained.
While Gurira had intense physical training to reprise her role as Okoye, the general of the all-female Dora Milaje warrior group, the actress admitted there were emotional challenges as well.
"I remember sitting with [director Ryan Coogler], and he helped me process what felt different this time: It was grief," Gurira explained. "So grief intermingled with our process. There were things I couldn't prepare for, like stepping into the throne room and remembering the last time I was there and getting really hit by that. And then, as Letitia said, we leaned on each other."
President of Marvel Studios Kevin Feige announced Bosemen's role will not be recast, a decision that divided fans of the franchise. However, the powerful women of Wakanda were more than ready to step in and carry on Boseman's legacy while leaning on each other.
"I had to learn that I'm still not ready to speak about everything with everyone. I didn't know when I was going to be triggered," Kasumba added. "But if that happened, I knew there were people I could be open with; coming to work felt like coming home. Also, the training helped a lot because we had to be so focused. It was a combination of losing ourselves but also making sure that we move as one again after such a long time."
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever hits theaters on Nov. 11.