Representing the many thousands of people who carry in their hearts deep wounds from life’s unexpected cuts and who have resolved to constantly pursue a good time nonetheless, Chadwick Boseman as Levee in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, entered many hearts when he wanted to be inside Toledo’s (Glynn Turman) head for five minutes.
For one who had been a superhero in another life showing vulnerabilities to which many people can relate meant that his act was bound to attract. Even though some of his lines tended to distract because of their weight, his acts still attract.
When his final moment in the movie came and life ebbed away from the dying Toledo whom he had in his shaking grip, he couldn’t stand his cutting gaze. Punctuated by heavy breathing he delivered his final lines (to Toledo): “Don’t look at me like that; don’t look at me like that.”
He wanted to be inside Toledo’s head for five minutes but must have remained there for much longer, and with this final line and overall performance, he entered thousands of hearts and compelled many of us to look at him a certain way. We know what he meant when he asked Toledo not to look at him a certain way but we also know he would not have minded if we looked at him with fondness. For his moving portrayal in the tragedy, which in the end helped to further elevate his craft and cement his
reputation as one of Hollywood’s finest.