Netflix delayed a virtual preview event for the film Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom on Monday, following the death of its star, Chadwick Boseman.
The film adaptation of August Wilson’s play, about the queen of the blues and her band in the 1920s, will be his final movie performance.
Boseman, who appears alongside Viola Davis and Colman Domingo, died of cancer last week aged 43.
Tributes have been paid by Davis and Netflix, as well as Michael B Jordan.
The Black Panther actor’s diagnosis was kept entirely private and came as a shock to many in the film industry and beyond.
Netflix boss Ted Sarandos described Boseman as “a superhero on screen and in life”.
“It’s impossible to imagine working at the level he has while valiantly battling his illness,” Sarandos said in a statement.
“His legacy as a person and an artist will inspire millions.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family during this difficult time,” he added.
In the forthcoming movie, Boseman plays the ambitious trumpet player Levee, who has desires for musical success of his own, and for Rainey’s girlfriend.
Davis, who plays the titular role, tweeted that it was “an honour” acting beside the star.
Boseman was not scheduled to appear at Monday’s online event, but Davis and director George C Wolfe were due to take part in a Q&A session about the film, commenting on new preview footage.
The late actor’s family have confirmed he had completed all of his filming for the role, and Wolfe said that working with him was “a glorious experience”.
“Every day we all got to witness the ferocity of his talent and the gentleness of his heart,” he said.
“A truly blessed, loving, gifted and giving human being.”
According to Variety, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is still due out this year, and “there was no immediate word from Netflix about whether Boseman’s death would impact its plans for the release”.
The film has been produced by Oscar-winning actor Denzel Washington, who in fact played a major role in Boseman’s life and career. Washington paid for his tuition fees when the future star was studying at the British American Drama Academy.
“He was a gentle soul and a brilliant artist, who will stay with us for eternity through his iconic performances over his short yet illustrious career,” Washington told CNN.
‘Grace, courage, and no regrets’
Boseman was viewed by many as the man who broke down screen barriers for black actors with his lead role as T’Challa/Black Panther in the Marvel superhero movie Black Panther in 2018.
Michael B Jordan, who portrayed N’Jadaka/Erik “Killmonger” Stevens in the film, paid tribute on social media on Monday to the man he called his “big brother”.
“I’ve been trying to find the words, but nothing comes close to how I feel”, he posted, alongside a series of photos of the two of them together.
“I’ve been reflecting on every moment, every conversation, every laugh, every disagreement, every hug … everything.
“I wish we had more time. One of the last times we spoke, you said we were forever linked, and now the truth of that means more to me than ever.”
Jordan added that Boseman had “paved the way for me”.
“You showed me how to be better, honour purpose, and create legacy,” he wrote.
“I wish we had more time. Everything you’ve given the world… the legends and heroes that you’ve shown us we are… will live on forever.”
He concluded that his friend’s death had made him realise that “time is short with people we love and admire,” and promised to dedicate the rest of his life to living like him – “with grace, courage, and no regrets”.
Earlier, another Black Panther star, Winston Duke, wrote that he was “absolutely devastated” by the loss of “my friend and hero”.
Harrison Ford also paid tribute, saying: “Chadwick Boseman was as compelling, powerful and truthful as the characters he chose to play.
“His intelligence, personal dignity and deep commitment inspired his colleagues and elevated the stories he told. He is as much a hero as any he played. He is loved and will be deeply missed.”