Angela Bassett Channeled Her Own Feelings Through Queen Ramonda For Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

"Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" can be considered many things: a sequel to one of Marvel Studios' most successful solo movies ever made, a continued and long overdue celebration of Black representation, and simply an emotionally hard-hitting movie that packs in as much pathos as thrills (read /Film's review by Chris Evangelista for more insights into those aspects of the film). But as much as it has going for it, the Ryan Coogler-directed movie also has the added responsibility of grappling with the devastating loss of star Chadwick Boseman to cancer. That hole in the center of its heart can be felt on every level of the film, from the strong supporting cast stepping up into larger roles to the marketing campaign that centered on the mystery of who would now don the suit, and the heavy mantle of Wakanda's chosen protector, the Black Panther. It should come as a surprise to none that the cast members felt Boseman's absence the hardest of anyone.

Angela Bassett has firmly established herself as a Hollywood legend at this point, instantly adding a sense of gravitas and weight to the original 2018 film as T'Challa's mother Ramonda. Her return in "Wakanda Forever" might not have seemed like anything more than her relatively minor role in "Black Panther," but the buzz surrounding the film in the weeks leading up to its release painted a very different picture altogether. With at least one show-stopping monologue reportedly under her belt, Bassett's performance in the sequel has stood out among the early buzz as one worthy of legitimate awards talk.

The key, as it turns out, was channeling her own emotions to help bring Ramonda's precise mindset in the film to life.

'The tears you see are indicative of the love I have'

The process of continuing production on "Wakanda Forever" in the aftermath of Chadwick Boseman's passing wasn't easy for anyone involved, as Bassett herself shared in another recent interview. In addition to the logistical hurdles of making a sequel to a film without the original's main protagonist and title character, the emotional turmoil of carrying on without such an integral member of the cast surely took a toll on those left behind. 

In an extensive profile with Variety, Angela Bassett opened up about her experience while filming — especially her big emotional scenes. That required a commitment to staying true to her feelings in the moment, particularly those of grief over Boseman, and channeling them into her performance. According to Bassett:

"Use it. Make it good for something. You're experiencing it. Don't be ashamed of it. It's part of life. The tears you see are indicative of the love I have — or the justice I demand or want or seek or desire."

As much as the noise is growing surrounding possible Oscars gold in her future for this role, Bassett has other ideas. "You don't do these kinds of projects for the awards." That said, she also goes on to say, "I appreciate the buzz on it because I know that it doesn't really come from these big superhero movie franchises." Whether or not the added emotion of "Wakanda Forever" elevated her performance to another level, the sequel will be well worth paying attention to on multiple levels. After all, the first film went on to earn several Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture.

"Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" will release in theaters on November 11, 2022.