The late Chadwick Boseman was widely expected to win a posthumous Academy Award at the 2021 Oscars — so much so, perhaps, that Oscar producers Steven Soderbergh, Stacey Sher, and Jesse Collins shifted the run-of-show to place Best Actor at the end of the ceremony instead of Best Picture. But the history-making moment was not to be: “The Father” star Anthony Hopkins was an upset winner in the Best Actor category on Sunday night, capitalizing on late-breaking momentum that likely pushed him over the top.
Hopkins was not in attendance at the Oscars. Early Monday morning, the legendary star did post an acceptance speech to Instagram in which he paid tribute to the legacy of Boseman.
“Well, here I am in my homeland in Wales, and at 83 years of age I did not expect to get this award, I really didn’t. And very grateful to the academy, and thank you, and I want to pay tribute to Chadwick Boseman, who was taken from us far too early, and again thank you all very much. I really did not expect this. So I feel very privileged and honored. Thank you,” he said.
Hopkins, who was a strong contender since “The Father” first premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2020, had previously lost to Boseman at the Golden Globes, Critics Choice Awards, and Screen Actors Guild Awards. But the beloved star, who last won Best Actor at the 1992 ceremony for “Silence of the Lambs,” defeated Boseman at the BAFTA Awards earlier this month — a result that ended being predictive of the final accounting at the 2021 Oscars. At 83 years old, Hopkins is now the oldest acting winner in the history of the Oscars, beating a mark set previously by Christopher Plummer (who won Best Supporting Actor at age 82.)
Had he won, Boseman would have become just the third actor in the history of the Academy Awards to win a posthumous acting Oscar. Heath Ledger won Best Supporting Actor for his performance in “The Dark Knight” at the 2009 ceremony. Peter Finch won Best Actor for “Network” at the 1977 ceremony. The last posthumous winner at the Oscars in any category was producer Gil Friesen, who won Best Documentary at the 2013 ceremony for “20 Feet From Stardom.”
Boseman died on August 28, 2020, from stage four colon cancer. The star’s illness remained private until his death, and not even his closest collaborators, like “Ma Rainey” director George C. Wolfe and star Viola Davis, were aware he was sick.
“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” an adaptation of the August Wilson play, is Boseman’s final film role. He also reprised his part of T’Challa from the Marvel Cinematic Universe for the Disney+ animated series “What If…?” which is expected to debut later this year.
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