- Spike Lee told Variety that Chadwick Boseman never told him that he was battling colon cancer when they made “Da 5 Bloods.”
- “It was a very strenuous shoot,” Lee said. “If I had known, I wouldn’t have made him do the stuff. And I respect him for that.”
- Lee now sees the final scene of Boseman in the movie as the actor having “God’s heavenly light” shining on him.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Spike Lee is as shocked as everyone else about the sudden death of Chadwick Boseman, whom he cast in his Netflix movie “Da 5 Bloods.” It was the last movie we saw the actor star in before his sudden death in August due to colon cancer.
But Lee is especially taken by the courage of Boseman on set because according to the Oscar-winning writer-director the actor never revealed his diagnosis.
“He did not look well, but my mind never took that he had cancer,” Lee told Variety’s Clayton Davis.
Looking back, Lee puts the actor, who played a character dubbed “Stormin’ Norman,” in high regard for going through the challenge of playing a Vietnam War squad leader in the movie without ever complaining.
“It was a very strenuous shoot,” Lee said. “I mean, we all didn’t get to Vietnam until the end of the movie at Ho Chi Minh City. But that other stuff, the jungle stuff, was shot in Thailand. 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.”
But others on set noticed how Thailand's intense environment took a toll on Boseman. After his death, Clarke Peters, who plays Otis in the movie, told "Good Morning Britain" that he noticed so many people tending to Boseman on set. Because he was unaware of the actor's hidden condition, Clarke thought the actor's fame had gone to his head.
"My wife asked me what Chadwick was like, you know? And I was really excited to work with him," he said earlier this year. "I said, 'Well, I think he's a little bit precious.' And she said, 'Why?' I said, 'Because he's surrounded by people who are fawning over him. He's got a Chinese practitioner who's massaging his back when he walks off set. He's got a makeup lady who's massaging his feet. His girlfriend is there holding his hand. And I'm thinking, 'Well, maybe the 'Black Panther' thing went to his head.'"
Clarke wiped away his tears as he continued: "I regret even having those thoughts because they were really looking out for him."
Lee told Variety that whenever he watches Boseman's character's final scene in "Da 5 Bloods," he has a powerful feeling. It's a moving moment in which Paul (played by Delroy Lindo), lost in the jungle, looks over to an open clearing. There, he sees the ghost of Norman, Boseman's character, with a light shining down on him. Lee said he had a spiritual feeling shooting that moment.
"It was God's heavenly light," Lee said of that scene. "We didn't have light. You know, Delroy 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."
"Da 5 Blood" cinematographer Newton Thomas Sigel spoke specifically about that scene while talking to Insider about the movie. He said it was his favorite shot because of how it came together.
"It was one of those amazing serendipitous moments where everything from performance to lighting to location all came together," he noted. "I knew the shot needed some kind of transition from this internal monologue to this fantastical event, and it just all came together."
"I knew the shot needed some kind of transition from this internal monologue to this fantastical event, and it just all came together," Sigel continued. "The original location I was presented with for that scene was different and to me, it didn't have the magic that the scene needed. So I found another area. I kind of lobbied Spike that it would be a more appropriate location for that scene and he immediately got it."