Spike Lee Recalls the Moment He Found Out About Chadwick Boseman's Death

Chadwick Boseman's death has made Spike Lee see his film Da 5 Bloods in a new light. In an interview with Variety published Wednesday, the Academy Award winning director opened about about when he found out about Boseman's death. Lee admitted that he didn't know Boseman, who he affectionately called Chad, was sick with colon cancer when filming Da 5 Bloods.

The Friday night that Boseman's death was announced, Lee said he went to bed early "for some reason. And the fact that I went to bed early, I woke up early. It must have been I was tired. I went to open my phone, and my phone — the whole thing had been blowing up. I turned it off. I was in shock," he said.

When asked if there were any signs pertaining to Boseman's illness, he said he didn't look well, but he never thought that he had cancer. "It was a very strenuous shoot. I mean, we all didn't get to Vietnam until the end of the movie at Ho Chi Minh City," Lee said of Da 5 Bloods. "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."

Chadwick Boseman Spike Lee
Chadwick Boseman and Spike Lee attend the 47th AFI Life Achievement Award honoring Denzel Washington at Dolby Theatre on June 06, 2019 in Hollywood, California. Charley Gallay/Getty Images for WarnerMedia

Lee told Variety that after Boseman's death, he watched Da 5 Bloods and one particular scene hit differently for him.

"He's a ghost already. You know the scene I'm talking about? It's the scene where he comes back, him and Delroy. I felt it when we shot it." Lee was referring to a scene towards the end of the war drama, where Boseman's Stormin' Norman is standing in a heavenly light in the jungle and shows off his bullet wound.

"It was God's heavenly light," Lee said. "We didn't have light. You know, Delroy's 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. Paul, played by Delroy Lindo, he says, 'I died for you.' I mean it was hard to look at the film again for me since his transition. It is just a whole 'nother experience."

The director added where actor Clarke Peters tells Boseman (who played a soldier) that he's the "best damn soldier" ever. "This is conjecture: There's a possibility he thought this might be his last film. And God gave him one more with Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. But 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," Lee added.