Ryan Coogler is moving forward with the Black Panther sequel as he thinks the late Chadwick Boseman would want him to. In a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the film's director said he knows Boseman "wouldn't have wanted us to stop."
"You've got to keep going when you lose loved ones. I know Chad wouldn't have wanted us to stop. He was somebody who was so about the collective," Coogler tells THR.
The Judas and the Black Messiah producer said Black Panther was Boseman's passion project. From start to finish, he was all about the film and all about making sure everyone on set was good.
"Black Panther, that was his movie. He was hired to play that role before anybody else was even thought of, before I was hired, before any of the actresses were hired. On that set, he was all about everybody else," he says.
Coogler added that, despite his behind-the-scenes battle with colon cancer, Boseman never stopped working or helping make the film what it has become.
"Even though he was going through what he was going through, he was checking in on them, making sure they were good," he recalls. "If we cut his coverage, he would stick around and read lines off camera [to help other actors with their performances]. So it would be harder for me to stop. Truthfully. I'd feel him yelling at me, like, 'What are you doing?' So you keep going."
While Coogler "didn't know what was going on" with regards to the intensely private battle Boseman was fighting, he says, "I knew what he wanted me to know."
"What's almost worse than missing him, is not being able to watch him in whatever he did next," Coogler adds.
"I miss him in every way that you could miss somebody, as a friend, as a collaborator. And it sucks because I love watching movies, and I don't get to watch the next thing he would have made. So it's grief on a lot of levels, but then, it's a deep sense of gratitude because I can close my eyes and hear his voice," he shares.
Earlier this month, Coogler called directing Black Panther 2 without Boseman "the hardest thing I've had to do in my professional life."
"One thing that I've learned in my short or long time on this Earth is that it's very difficult to have perspective on something while you're going through it," the 34-year-old director revealed, during an appearance on Jemele Hill's Jemele Hill Is Unbothered podcast. "This is one of the more profound things that I've gone through in my life, having to be a part of keeping this project going without this particular person who is like the glue who held it together."
He continued, "I'm trying to find a work-life balance. But I'm not there yet, so this is without question the hardest thing I've had to do in my professional life."