Michaela Coel has said she wanted to “support and comfort” her Black Panther castmates following the death of Chadwick Boseman.
The 35-year-old British-Ghanaian actress stars as Aneka in the upcoming sequel Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.
Speaking to the PA news agency at the European premiere of the film, Coel reflected on the making of the sequel without Boseman, who died from colon cancer following his performance as King T’Challa in the first film.
She said: “I think there was so much going on with Chadwick… I was just keen to support them and comfort them and be a friend during a very complex time.”
Coel also shared her personal motivation behind taking on the role of a queer character in the movie, saying: “For me it was about why I took the role and what it meant to me to portray a queer character, being from Ghana, where there’s a lot of confusing LGBT laws going on.
“So for me, my focus on that element was very singular…
“It was about what I represent in Ghana and putting my feet in the shoes of a queer character.”
The I Will Destroy You actress and creator explained that she hopes her role will have a positive impact on people in Ghana, adding: “I have many friends there, and even just knowing it’s happening is a very exciting thing.”
“Show them who we are.” Watch the brand-new trailer for Marvel Studios’ Black Panther: #WakandaForever, only in theaters November 11.
— Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (@theblackpanther) October 3, 2022
In the film Aneka, the captain and combat instructor of the Dora Milaje, falls in love with second in command Ayo, with their forbidden relationship leading to tension and disruption within the group of warriors.
Martin Freeman, who plays Everett K. Ross in the film, also commented on the effect Boseman’s legacy had on the creation of Wakanda Forever, telling PA: “Not only in this job but in life, if you don’t channel your grief into something else then we all just sit around and die.
“You can’t do that.
“The only alternative is to go on.
“And the shock and grief of Chadwick’s passing has to be turned into something positive, otherwise what are we doing?
“So I hope he’ll be happy with what we’ve done.”
Winston Duke remembered his late co-star while on the red carpet in London’s Leicester Square, where he described the process of filming without Boseman as “melancholic”.
“There was a deep need to see him and experience him again, but with the knowledge that you’re not going to have that,” Duke, 35, who plays M’Baku told PA.
“It’s something that I think we’re all still dealing with and just being able to have this tribute is very special for all of us.”
He added: “The entire thing was trying to channel grief to make something positive.”
Asked how she felt about the sense of unity and sisterhood, both on and off screen, Danai Gurira, who plays Okoye, said: “It was all about love and empowerment, in the sense of being sisters in it together, supporting each other and really rejoicing in each other’s triumphs.”
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is due for release on November 11.