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Chadwick Boseman: the passing of the King

Published: 29 Aug 2020

We were deeply saddened to learn of the death of Chadwick Boseman, a friend of The Ink Factory and a valued collaborator.

Chadwick Boseman in Message From The King

We were privileged to work with Chadwick on our film Message From The King, in which Chadwick played the eponymous Jacob King. Jacob King is a man of few words, able to convey his message to those he encounters with a thunderous impact. As with the role, so with Chadwick.

Chadwick left an indelible mark, both on the role, and on those he worked with.  He was a great actor, already brilliant but with his best surely still to give.  But he was much more than that: a thoughtful collaborator and contributor; a man of quiet, understated understanding; a truly creative, truly human presence.  To spend time with him was to reflect, and to learn.

Message From The King was for Chadwick a journey: as he himself put it, the role of King, a man from the projects on the outskirts of Capetown who comes to Los Angeles looking for his lost sister, gave him a chance to create for himself a South African identity: a set of roots very different from his own, but nonetheless roots he could own, and throw himself into.

To prepare for the role, Chadwick travelled to South Africa, immersing himself completely in his life there.  He studied language and dialect; he patrolled the projects with the South African police; he even had himself locked in jail for a day with one of the leaders of Capetown’s notorious Numbers Gangs.  He was the consummate professional: his experiences in South Africa suffused every detail of his performance in the film.  But the roots he created for the film stayed with him too: the voice of T’Challa, the Black Panther, known to millions around the world, is the voice of Jacob King.

Chadwick’s passing has left us devastated.  The director of Message From The King, Fabrice do Welz, encapsulates what we all feel:

‘It is with deep sadness that I learn of the tragic passing of Chadwick Boseman. This shocks me deeply. I spent several months with him, loved him and sincerely admired him … I think of all he could have accomplished, produced, lived, loved, written and directed … Chadwick was bright, an exceptional being. I was fortunate enough to cross his path and would have loved a new adventure together … Chadwick is gone, much, much too soon and it’s terrible …’

Stephen Cornwell, co-founder and co-CEO of The Ink Factory, but also producer and co-writer of Message From The King, writing in 2016 about the role of King, wrote ‘Grief. Guilt. Loss. It is a search for identity. In a world of fractured souls, how do you discover yourself? How do you discover each other?’  Chadwick helped us answer some of those questions, in the film and in life.   He was a man of true beauty; of the heart, soul, and  mind.   We were blessed to know him, and we will never forget him.