Netflix releases trailer for Chadwick Boseman’s final film, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

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Lauren Geall
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Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Netflix has just released the first trailer for Viola Davis and Chadwick Boseman’s new film,  Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. Here’s everything we know about the beautiful movie, which was also Boseman’s last production before his death earlier this year. 

Fans of Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman have been given their first look at the actor in the upcoming Netflix film Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. 

The actor, who passed away from colon cancer at the end of August, finished production of the film before his death.

The film, which is an adaptation of August Wilson’s play of the same name, tells the story of the “Mother of the Blues” Ma Rainey in 1927 Chicago. Viola Davis stars alongside Boseman in the titular role.

Taking to Twitter to share a selection of first-look photos featuring Boseman in his role as ambitious trumpeter Levee, Netflix recently announced the film would land on the streaming platform on 18 December. 

According to the synopsis, the film centres around “an afternoon recording session in 1920’s Chicago” as “tensions and temperatures rise” among the musicians awaiting Ma Rainey’s arrival.

It reads: “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 – 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.”

Chadwick Boseman
Chadwick Boseman filmed his role in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom whilst dealing with colon cancer.

Netflix has now released a trailer for the film, and it looks like a beautiful, compelling watch. Aside from the attention to detail and captivating musical performances, Boseman and Davis are simply stunning in their roles. 

Let’s take a look…

In an interview with The New York Times, Davis revealed how Boseman took the role of Levee in his stride.

“A lot of actors mistake their presence for the event,” she said. “An actor of Chadwick’s status usually comes on and it’s their ego who comes before them: this is what they want, this is what they’re not going to do.

“That was absolutely, 150% off the table with Chadwick. He could completely discard whatever ego he had, whatever vanity he had, and welcome Levee in.”

This isn’t the first time Boseman’s name has made headlines recently – at the end of last month, his 21 Bridges co-star Sienna Miller revealed that the actor had paid her some of his salary to ensure she was paid what she “deserved” for her part in the film.

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Speaking to Empire, she said: “This was a pretty big-budget film, and I know that everybody understands about the pay disparity in Hollywood, but I asked for a number that the studio wouldn’t get to. And because I was hesitant to go back to work and my daughter was starting school and it was an inconvenient time, I said ‘I’ll do it if I’m compensated in the right way’.

“And Chadwick ended up donating some of his salary to get me to the number that I had asked for. He said that that was what I deserved to be paid.”

While it’s sad to know that Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is Boseman’s final film, it’s also a welcome opportunity to celebrate the life and legacy of an actor who had such a monumental impact on the film industry as a whole.

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Lauren Geall

As Stylist’s digital writer, Lauren Geall writes on topics including mental health, wellbeing and work. She’s also a big fan of houseplants and likes to dabble in film and TV from time-to-time.

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