In Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, actor Chadwick Boseman gives an electrifying final performance as Levee Green, a trumpeter in Ma (Davis)’s band. As it turns out, Boseman’s wife, Taylor Simone Ledward, played a vital role in helping him through his final role.’
In an interview with Decider, Glynn Turman, who co-stars in the film, noted how Ledward, his then-girlfriend at the time, was by Boseman’s side every moment on the set of Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.
“I got to see how much he adored his wife-to-be, Simone,” Turman said. “Once he introduced me to her, that was fantastic. She was a sweetheart and beautiful, and his eyes sparkled. She took such care of him. I didn’t realize what that was all about at that time, but she was right there for him. I enjoyed those kinds of moments, seeing that out of the corner of my eye offset.”
Turman also talked about witnessing their relationship and love for one another. “She tripped one time when she was introduced to me, and she kind of stumbled a little bit,” she said. “I said, ‘Chadwick, she’s beautiful, but she’s a little clumsy.’ And he said, ‘Yeah, she is, isn’t she?’ She got so mad—well, not really mad, but playfully. Started hitting me, started slapping him. ‘I’m not clumsy! I’m not!’ That was our run-in joke through the whole time of the set, which was a very human and very adorable thing to be a part of.”
Denzel Washington, who executive produced the film, also noticed their relationship and encouraged him to marry her. “Certain members of his team knew [about Boseman’s diagnosis]. His wife was there,” said Washington to CBS Sunday Morning. “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 died on Aug. 28 at the age of 43 after a private, four-year-long battle with colon cancer.
The actor is expected to get a posthumous Best Actor Oscar nomination for his work in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, with many believing he is the one to beat in the category.