In a virtual panel during the Toronto International Film Festival, Washington talked about his first meeting with Boseman at the New York City premiere of Black Panther in 2018. The encounter came years after Washington quietly paid for Boseman, and several of his Howard University classmates, to attend an acting program at England’s Oxford University.
Related: Boseman's acceptance speech on being "young, gifted, and Black"
"I went to watch the movie and I remember shedding a tear," Washington said, according to Entertainment Tonight.
"I was like, 'Man, these young guys are just goin'!' Like, 'They've taken over!'" he recalled. "You know, sooner or later you're not going make it all the way around the track. You're going to take some time off and watch the young boys run. And watching that movie, that's what I felt like. I'm like, 'Man, they're going.'"
"Who knew he didn't have much life left? But he didn't get cheated. We did," Washington added later. "I pray for his poor wife and his family, they got cheated. But he lived a full life."
Washington previously released a statement mourning the actor the day after his death.
"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. “God bless Chadwick Boseman.”
Washington served as a producer on one of the last films Boseman worked on before his death, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. Their connection goes deeper thanks to Washington's kind act when Boseman was just starting out.
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.
“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.