Netflix Reveals First Look of “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” With Chadwick Boseman in Final Role

These are likely the most bittersweet images you’ll see today. Or this week. Netflix has revealed the first look at Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, which features Chadwick Boseman in his final role. Boseman stars alongside Viola Davis in director George C. Wolfe’s adaptation of August Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning 1982 play. The film focuses on racial tension in Chicago in 1927 and follows a single, volatile afternoon recording session with the trailblazing performer Ma Rainey (Viola Davis), her ambitious trumpeter Levee (Boseman), and her white management team.

As we all know, Boseman died of colon cancer on August 23, at 43. We’re still reeling from his death, although the tributes and love that have poured in since the day he passed have made clear what kind of man he was and what kind of life he led. (Recently, the news broke that Boseman gave up a portion of his salary on 21 Bridges to his co-star Sienna Miller).  Seeing these images from Netflix reminds us what a stellar performer he was, too.

“Working with Chadwick on Ma Rainey was a glorious experience,” said Wolfe in a statement at the time. “Every day we all got to witness the ferocity of his talent and the gentleness of his heart. A truly blessed, loving, gifted, and giving human being.”

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom also stars Colman Domingo, Glynn Turman, and Taylor Paige. The film is set to premiere on Netflix on December 18.

Here’s that tweet from Netflix:

Here’s the official synopsis from Netflix:

Tensions and temperatures rise over the course of an afternoon recording session in 1920s Chicago as a band of musicians await trailblazing performer, the legendary “Mother of the Blues,” Ma Rainey (Academy Award® winner Viola Davis). Late to the session, the fearless, fiery Ma engages in a battle of wills with her white manager and producer over control of her music. As the band waits in the studio’s claustrophobic rehearsal room, ambitious trumpeter Levee (Chadwick Boseman) — who has an eye for Ma’s girlfriend and is determined to stake his own claim on the music industry — spurs his fellow musicians into an eruption of stories revealing truths that will forever change the course of their lives.

Adapted from two-time Pulitzer Prize winner August Wilson’s play, MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM celebrates the transformative power of the blues and the artists who refuse to let society’s prejudices dictate their worth. Directed by George C. Wolfe and adapted for the screen by Ruben Santiago-Hudson, the film is produced by Fences Oscar® nominees Denzel Washington and Todd Black. Colman Domingo, Glynn Turman, Michael Potts, Taylour Paige and Dusan Brown co-star alongside Grammy® winner Branford Marsalis’ score.

Featured image: L-r: Michael Potts, Chadwick Boseman, and Colman Domingo. Courtesy Netflix.


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The Credits is an online magazine that tells the story behind the story to celebrate our large and diverse creative community. Focusing on profiles of below-the-line filmmakers, The Credits celebrates the often uncelebrated individuals who are indispensable to the films and TV shows we love.