It’s as if God knew.
Reminiscing about the late actor Chadwick Boseman in a new interview, director Spike Lee tells Variety about a magical moment on the set of his Netflix Vietnam vet drama Da 5 Bloods that was, in retrospect, an act of Divine providence.
“I felt it when we shot it,” Lee says. “It was God’s heavenly light. We didn’t have light. You know, Delroy [Lindo] is talking to the camera, talking about his conversation with God? We go up, and we come down and we find this heavenly light. It’s Chadwick standing in that light, in that pose. That was God up there. I don’t care what nobody says. That was God’s heavenly light, because that scene’s not lit. That’s natural light. And that was God sending heavenly light on Chadwick.”
Lee was not aware that Boseman was battling Stage 4 colon cancer but that, too, has become apparent to him in hindsight. “I didn’t know Chad was sick,” Lee recalls. “He did not look well, but my mind never took that he had cancer. It was a very strenuous shoot. I mean…it was 100 degrees every day. It was also at that time the worst air pollution in the world. I understand why Chadwick didn’t tell me because he didn’t want me to take it easy. If I had known, I wouldn’t have made him do the stuff. And I respect him for that.”
For Lee, Boseman’s ethic was (again) Providentially memorialized in the script’s dialogue. “There’s a line in the movie where Clarke [Peters] says he’s the best damn soldier ever. And Chadwick was — is — a soldier…now looking at that, he was playing it. Stormin’ Norman says, ‘If I have to go out, I’m going gangbusters.’ And that’s what he did.”
To read Variety’s full Spike Lee interview, click here.