Chadwick Boseman’s final film, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, has released its first trailer, in which the late actor is suited up in a tuxedo, performing blues music with co-star Viola Davis.
The film, based on August Wilson’s award-winning play of the same name, shares the story of trailblazing blues artist Ma Rainey, portrayed by Davis. Set in Chicago in 1927, the musicians grapple with issues of race, music, relationships and the exploitation of Black recording artists. The late Boseman portrayed Ma’s band member Levee, an ambitious trumpeter who aspired to make his own mark in the Chicago music scene by putting a contemporary spin on old-fashioned songs.
Chicago, 1927. A recording session. Tensions rise between Ma Rainey (Viola Davis), her ambitious horn player (Chadwick Boseman), and the white management determined to control the legendary “Mother of the Blues.” Based on Pulitzer Prize winner August Wilson’s play.
The film is helmed by George C. Wolfe, who won Tony awards for directing the play Angels in America: Millennium Approaches and the musical Bring in ‘da Noise, Bring in ‘da Funk. Wolfe also served as the artistic director of The Public Theater from 1993 to 2004.
Boseman was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer in 2016, and eventually it progressed to stage 4, his family revealed after his death. Although he never spoke publicly about his diagnosis, he worked through his treatment for much of his film career. Netflix could make a push for a posthumous Oscar nomination for Boseman in the supporting actor category. The late actor may have another Oscar contender with Spike Lee and Netflix’s Da 5 Bloods; if he were nominated twice, Boseman would become the first actor with two posthumous acting nods.
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is set for release on December 18, 2020 on Netflix and will play in select theaters in November.