Martin Freeman 'couldn't believe that nobody knew' that 'Black Panther' co-star Chadwick Boseman had cancer

Martin Freeman (at the Black Panther: Wakanda Forever London premiere) reflects on Chadwick Boseman's
Martin Freeman (at the Black Panther: Wakanda Forever London premiere) reflects on Chadwick Boseman's "dreadful" death. (Photo: REUTERS/Toby Melville)

Martin Freeman is still shocked that no one at Marvel knew that his Black Panther co-star, Chadwick Boseman, was seriously ill during filming, he says in a new interview about the action hero's "dreadful" death from colon cancer.

“Losing him was awful. It was dreadful,” Freeman told Sky News about the Academy Award-nominated actor’s death in August 2020.

Freeman, 51, called the late star an inspiration “because of what he achieved.” Boseman lived with cancer for the last four years of his life. During that time, the actor starred in Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: End Game, 21 Bridges, Da 5 Bloods, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom and Marvel’s What If?

“He was really quite remarkable. I couldn't believe that nobody knew," the BAFTA winner shared. "I was saying to people at Marvel, 'Come on, you must've really known.'"

But nobody was the wiser.

“That’s when you kind of go — you can never complain again. You can’t complain about … oh, we’ve been waiting around a bit long or my tea’s a bit cold, when people are capable of this superhuman act of fortitude,” Freeman said.

The British actor is the latest collaborator to talk about working with Boseman amid his cancer struggles. In January 2022, Denzel Washington spoke with Variety about the late star, calling him "a man among men."

"He suffered quietly," Washington told the outlet. "He made the movie, and nobody knew. I didn’t know. He never said a peep about it. He just did his job. I wondered if something was wrong because he seemed weak or tired sometimes. We had no idea, and it was nobody’s business. Good for him, keeping it to himself."

In September, Lupita Nyong’o spoke about grieving the movie’s star while the cast filmed its sequel, Wakanda Forever. "There was a lot of stillness, reflection, prayer and meditation to bolster me up as emotionally, mentally and spiritually as possible," Nyong'o told the New York Times.

"It was a unique experience to step back into this world without our leader. When you have a sophomore film, there's a lot of expectation. But I think the loss of Chadwick kind of took all that away. I found myself having to radically accept that this was going to be different, and that showing up with as much openness as possible was key."

President of Marvel Studios Kevin Feige told Empire that Bosemen's role as T’Challa will not be recast. The decision has led to petitions from Marvel fans.