The actor's family announced his passing at the age of 43 on Friday (28Aug20), revealing he had been privately suffering from colon cancer for the past four years.
His shock death rocked Boseman's fans and Hollywood peers, who have continued to add to the tributes online, and on Sunday, Coogler penned a lengthy statement remembering his friend and collaborator, with whom he had been planning to make a "Black Panther" sequel.
He opens the touching note by writing, "Before sharing my thoughts on the passing of the great Chadwick Boseman, I first offer my condolences to his family who meant so very much to him. To his wife, Simone, especially." Coogler begins by recalling how he decided to sign on to direct the 2018 Marvel blockbuster after viewing a rough cut of "Captain America: Civil War", in which Boseman is first introduced as T'Challa, aka Black Panther, onscreen, admitting he was "in awe of his capacity" as an actor after discovering he had learned a series of lines in the South African language of Xhosa "on the spot" to bring a feeling of authenticity to his African character.
Boseman had also fought to have the first black superhero speak with an African accent "so that he could present T'Challa to audiences as an African king, whose dialect had not been conquered by the West."
As Coogler got to know Boseman, he immediately recognised "Chad" as "an anomaly" due to his kind and warm nature and his determination to be "constantly studying," and admits the late actor was the one who predicted Black Panther to be the groundbreaking film it was for black culture, even as the director was doubting his own abilities to bring the story together onscreen.
Although the pair was close, the filmmaker "wasn't privy" to Boseman's health crisis, and had no idea how much he had been suffering away from the cameras. "After his family released their statement, I realized that he was living with his illness the entire time I knew him," Coogler marvelled. "Because he was a caretaker, a leader, and a man of faith, dignity and pride, he shielded his collaborators from his suffering. He lived a beautiful life. And he made great art. Day after day, year after year. That was who he was. He was an epic firework display. I will tell stories about being there for some of the brilliant sparks till the end of my days. What an incredible mark he's left for us."
"I haven't grieved a loss this acute before," he continued. "I spent the last year preparing, imagining and writing words for him to say (in Black Panther 2), that we weren't destined to see. It leaves me broken knowing that I won't be able to watch another close-up of him in the monitor again or walk up to him and ask for another take."
"It hurts more to know that we can't have another conversation, or facetime, or text message exchange. He would send vegetarian recipes and eating regimens for my family and me to follow during the pandemic. He would check in on me and my loved ones, even as he dealt with the scourge of cancer."
Coogler concludes his lengthy tribute by sharing how loved ones who have passed on are often referred to as "ancestors" in African cultures, even if they are not blood relatives.
"It is with a heavy heart and a sense of deep gratitude to have ever been in his presence, that I have to reckon with the fact that Chad is an ancestor now," he added. "And I know that he will watch over us, until we meet again."