'Ma Rainey's Black Bottom' First Look Offers A Glimpse Of Chadwick Boseman In His Final Role

George C. Wolfe's adaptation of Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, based on the August Wilson stage play of the same name, was already on track to become one of Netflix's major 2021 Oscar contenders. However, the tragic passing of star Chadwick Boseman in August has turned it into a memorial of sorts to the late actor, who makes his final feature film appearance in the film. Netflix has released the first images from Ma Rainey's Black Bottom featuring Boseman, as well as co-stars Viola Davis, who plays the titular role, and Denzel Washington, both of whom praise Boseman's performance in the movie as one of the finest of his career. See the Ma Rainey's Black Bottom first look photos below.

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom First Look

Netflix and The New York Times debuted the first look images from Wolfe's adaptation of Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, which stars Viola Davis, Denzel Washington, and Chadwick Boseman in his final feature film role. Boseman died on August 28 from colon cancer after keeping his illness hidden for four years, sending shockwaves throughout the world. None were more surprised than his Ma Rainey's co-stars, who were as in the dark as the rest of us that Boseman was shooting the Ma Rainey — as well as other major films like Black Panther, Avengers: Endgame, and Da 5 Bloods — while undergoing cancer treatment.

"I think a lot of times, people look at someone's life backwards," Davis said. "Now we have the unfortunate knowledge that Chadwick succumbed to cancer at 43, but really, Levee represents so many Black men living in America. What we're constantly navigating on a day-to-day basis is the trauma of our past — we're trying to heal from it, we're even trying to understand that it's there, and we're negotiating that with our dreams and who we want to become."

Washington praised Boseman's performance in the film, adding, "He did a brilliant job, and he's gone. I still can't believe it."

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom stars Davis as Gertrude "Ma" Rainey, a professional blues singer who would become known as the "Mother of the Blues." The film takes place during a single intense recording session in 1920s Chicago, as Ma Rainey fights her manager and producer over control of her music and clashes with her band members.

This is both Davis and Washington's second time starring in a feature adaptation of an August Wilson play, with the two of them earning accolades (and an Oscar win for Davis) for their performance in 2016's FencesGlynn Turman, Colman Domingo, and Michael Potts round out the cast for Ma Rainey's Black Bottom.

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom is set to debut December 18, 2020 on Netflix.