Denzel Washington remembers the first time he met Chadwick Boseman. It was years after he'd paid for Boseman's acting program -- an anecdote now intrinsically tied to the young actor's origin story -- at the premiere of Black Panther.
"I went to watch the movie and I remember shedding a tear," Washington said during an "In Conversation With..." virtual panel alongside filmmaker Barry Levinson at the Toronto International Film Festival's Bell Digital Talks Cinema.
"I was like, 'Man, these young guys are just goin'!' Like, 'They've taken over!'" he recalled with a laugh. "You know, sooner or later you're not going make it all the way around the track. You're going to take some time off and watch the young boys run. And watching that movie, that's what I felt like. I'm like, 'Man, they're going.'"
Boseman died on Aug. 28 at age 43. Washington now remembers him as a "gentle man." "A very, very gentle soul," he said. "A great talent, obviously."
As fate would have it, the two actors found themselves working together in the latter's final film, the upcoming Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, which Boseman stars in and Washington produced.
"Who knew he didn't have much life left? But he didn't get cheated. We did," Washington said at TIFF, reiterating: "He didn't get cheated, we did. I pray for his poor wife and his family, they got cheated. But he lived a full life."