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Denzel Washington Says He Encouraged Chadwick Boseman To Marry Simone Ledward

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Denzel Washington is opening up about his time working with Chadwaick Boseman on his last film Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. 

Washington told “CBS Sunday Morning” while on set no one knew about Boseman’s colon cancer diagnosis but that so much of what he saw now makes sense, including the bond between Boseman and then girlfriend Simone Ledward. Washington said after noticing how Ledward took care of him that he urged the actor to put a ring on it.

“Certain members of his team knew. His wife was there. They weren’t even married yet … And I used to watch how she took care of him, and I actually said to him, I said, ‘Man, you know, you need to put a ring on that finger,’ cause she kept her eye on him and she watched him. And I’m like, ‘Man, she loves that guy.’ You know, but I didn’t know what we know now.”

Boseman and Ledward, who reportedly had been dating since 2015, appeared together on many red carpets and at events for Boseman’s films. A statement announcing Boseman’s death revealed that he and Ledward had married sometime before his passing.

“It’s fascinating that nobody knew,” Washington added of Boseman’s four year battle with cancer. “Well, credit to him; he kept it to himself. It was nobody’s business. He was there to deliver and he delivered.”

In the film produced by Washington, Boseman plays a strong-willed trumpet player named Levee. It is (in our opinion) the best performance of his career and his farewell to fans.

Director George C. Wolfe revealed in an interview with the WSJ Magazine, that after filming a scene during which Boseman’s character, Levee, confronts someone for believing in God, Boseman began to cry. “It was raw and explosive,” he said. “Afterwards, Chadwick just started to sob, and Colman [a co-star] hugged him, and then Chadwick’s girlfriend basically picked him up.”

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is based on August Wilson’s 1984 play of the same name and is set in 1927. Viola Davis plays real-life blues legend Gertrude “Ma” Rainey while Glynn Turman, Colman Domingo and Michael Potts play members of her band.

The film premieres on Dec. 18 on Netflix.

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