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Spike Lee: I would not have pushed Chadwick Boseman as hard if I knew he was ill

Chadwick Boseman died after having colon cancer (Chadwick Boseman (Ian West/PA)
Chadwick Boseman died after having colon cancer (Chadwick Boseman (Ian West/PA)

Spike Lee has said he would not have pushed Chadwick Boseman as hard as he did on the set of Da Five Bloods if he had known he was ill.

Boseman died in August aged 43 after having colon cancer for four years.

Lee told The Hollywood Reporter he “did not know” that Boseman had been ill.

“There was a very small circle that knew he was not going to be here that much longer, and I understand why he did not want people to know,” he said.

“If I would have known, the first battle sequence in the film is 100 degrees and we had the shots where he has to run 50 yards like Usain Bolt.

“I mean, he has to haul it. If he tells me that, automatically I’m not going to make him, I’m not going to push him as hard as I can.

“He did not want any shortcuts. Any special treatment, didn’t want it.”

Spike Lee
Spike Lee did not know about Chadwick Boseman’s illness (Ian West/PA)

George C Wolfe, who directed Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, another film Boseman starred in last year, also discussed working with the actor towards the end of his life during a roundtable discussion with the US publication.

“He would do take after take of these deep, raw emotional moments,” he said.

“There’s a moment in the film where he breaks through this door, and he kicked so violently that the door shattered and we had to figure out how to put it together.

“Every single thing that he was doing had this incredibly intense level of commitment to it.

“He was thinner, but I thought he was fasting or something like that, there was no indication emotionally or physically that anything else was going on.”

Wolfe said Boseman’s death was “devastating and shocking, because I sensed nothing else was going on, other than an actor giving every single ounce of what he had to make the character in the film and the moments come alive”.

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