On Monday, the first trailer for Netflix’s “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” was released, which features Chadwick Boseman’s final performance alongside Viola Davis. The drama film, directed by George C. Wolfe, will premiere December 18th on Netflix and in select theaters.
Based on the 1982 play by August Wilson, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” takes place in 1920s Chicago, and follows the trailblazing Blues singer Ma Rainey and her band members. Boseman stars as Levee, a gifted yet disturbed trumpet player who is driven to make a name for himself in the music industry.
Variety spoke with Davis about the impactful legacy that Boseman left behind. “Chadwick was just an artist. That’s just who he was,” she said. “Chadwick put his entire being into Levee and Levee demands that because of the scale of the role. He put every ounce of his heart and passion into it.” And certainly, in the two-minute trailer, Boseman’s admirable dedication and exceptional talent is deeply apparent.
Davis plays the lead as Ma Rainey, merging with the role so incredibly well that she is barely recognizable. Working closely with the costume designer, Davis said that she wanted to accurately portray Rainey’s body type. “I was going for a specific body structure and going for the structure of my aunt Joyce because, other than my mom, she was the first beautiful woman that I knew growing up and she was a woman of a certain size,” she told Variety. “I wanted that body because that is how Ma Rainey is described.”
Davis completed the look with a mouthful of gold teeth, and intensified her appearance by using sweat. “I did what an actor does all the time, they call it ‘the given circumstances.’ If they say a character is a certain way, then that’s who they are, you don’t change it to meet your comfort level,” she said.
Below, watch the first trailer for “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” The movie also stars Glynn Turman, Colman Domingo, Taylour Paige, Jonny Coyne, and Michael Potts.