After feeling “completely deflated” by Chadwick Boseman’s death, Lupita Nyong’o and Letitia Wright – who star in the Black Panther sequel Wakanda Forever – have said they hope “he would be proud” of the new movie.
Two years on from Boseman’s death from colon cancer, aged just 43, the absence of King T’Challa himself on the black carpet at the London premiere was acutely felt as fans and photographers saw the stars out in force in Leicester Square.
Wright, who returns as Shuri, King T’Challa’s sister, told Sky News that he was at the forefront of everyone’s thoughts throughout the shoot.
She said: “I lost my brother, so for me, the most important thing was about thinking why? Why are we moving forward? What would he have wanted?
“And I feel very strongly under the guidance of our director that he would be proud of this. He would have wanted to see the next generation motivated and inspired, that’s what we’re trying to do.”
Nyong’o, who plays King T’Challa’s former lover Nakia, admitted returning to the set was hard.
“At the beginning, when Chadwick died, I was just completely deflated and I had no idea how we could come back to Wakanda.”
Crediting the sensitive way in which director Ryan Coogler takes the story forward, she said “[he] pivoted the story to embrace that loss, he made it about exploring grief and how we move on from tragedy”.
A new addition to the franchise, I May Destroy You actress Michaela Coel, said she was a huge fan of the original and “the passion it ignited” in her.
She told Sky News: “I was giving cuddles, handing out tissues and making people laugh where I could.”
Joining the franchise as Aneka, a captain and combat instructor, she also credited filmmaker Coogler and his co-writer Joe Robert Cole in how they incorporated the great loss that everyone felt.
Coel said: “A lot of women carry the heart of this movie but it’s written by two incredible men.
“What really blows my mind is how they were able to take their grief, process it and funnel it into a script that we could feel and understand…. it’s incredible and so respectful.”
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is in cinemas from 11 November.