Chadwick Boseman discovered he would play the lead role of Black Panther while he was promoting another movie in Europe.
“We were in Zurich,” Boseman said at the Black Panther press conference. “I was coming off the red carpet for Get On Up and my agent was like, ‘You’ve gotta get on the phone.’ And the crazy thing is I didn’t even have international calling on my phone until that morning. In an interview I heard someone say ‘Get international on your phone and call your mum,’ [then] important stuff, literally, happened that night.”
The important phone call was from Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige, Marvel producers Louis D’Esposito, Nate Moore and directors Joe and Anthony Russo.
“We were sitting around a table. We were coming up with the story for [Captain America] Civil War [when] Nate Moore, our executive producer, suggested bringing in Black Panther because we were looking for a third party that wouldn’t necessarily side with Cap or Iron Man. And almost instantly we all said ‘Chadwick,’ Feige said. “And in my memory, though maybe it was the next day, we got him on speaker phone right then.”
“You hear people say this all the time when you’re in a setting like this but he was the only choice,” Feige said. So unlike most of the biggest stars playing superheroes, Boseman did not have anything to get the role. No auditions, no nothing. He just had to be himself.
Also, though they did not know it at the time, the decision was a major factor in landing director Ryan Coogler, who was unsure if Black Panther should be his next movie.
“When I came and sat down to watch Civil War before it came out, I was trying to make my mind up if the film was right for me,” Coogler told us. “Then I saw [the scenes with T’Challa and T’Chaka] and was blown away.”
“I’m really incredibly grateful for the choices and decisions that [everyone] made in Civil War,” he continued. “I thought they just did a phenomenal job of introducing the main character from this film, casting Chadwick, casting Dr. John Kani and Florence Kasumba. It just set us up in such an amazing way.”
Black Panther opens February 15.