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Denzel Washington has opened up about working with Chadwick Boseman on Netflix’s “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” and recalled how the actor’s wife took great care of him on set.

Washington produced the film based on August Wilson’s award-winning play. The official synopsis from Netflix reads; “Tensions and temperatures rise over the course of an afternoon recording session in 1920s Chicago as a band of musicians await trailblazing performer, the legendary Mother of the Blues, Ma Rainey (Academy Award winner Viola Davis). Boseman plays an ambitious trumpeter named Levee.

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The actor died in August at the age of 43 after a four-year battle with colon cancer. The cast and crew did not know during filming that he had been undergoing treatment for the disease.

“Certain members of his team knew,” the two-time Oscar winner said. “His wife was there — they weren’t even married yet. I used to watch how she took care of him, and I actually said to him, I said, ‘Man, you need to put a ring on that finger.’ Because she kept her eye on him, and she watched him, and I’m like, ‘Man, she loves that guy.’ But I didn’t know what we know now.”

The longtime couple wed before Boseman’s death.

Washington’s comments come after the film’s director, George C. Wolfe, spoke in a previous interview about the toll Boseman’s performance took on him.

“We were doing it in a very casual way, and I assumed that when Levee got to the big speech that Chadwick was going to stop. But he didn’t stop. He kept going, and Levee took over—it was raw and explosive. Afterwards, Chadwick just started to sob, and Chadwick’s girlfriend picked him up,” Wolfe said.

 

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