Netflix has released the trailer for Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, which features Chadwick Boseman in his final role. An adaptation of August Wilson's 1982 play, the film stars Viola Davis as the titular Ma Rainey, a pioneering blues artist known as the "Mother of Blues." As she fights against her white record producers for control of her music, her band begins to grow unhappy with her. Boseman stokes the flames as Levee, an ambitious trumpeter "who has an eye for Ma’s girlfriend and is determined to stake his own claim on the music industry," according to Netflix's official synopsis.
As Davis told Entertainment Weekly in a recent interview, Ma can be “a little bit of a fascist” and doesn’t tolerate anyone who tries to disrupt her method of working, making her clash with Levee constantly. “Levee represents everything that is antithetical towards her belief system,” she said. “He is representative of a new phase of music that will render her extinct. He is unruly and undisciplined.”
Boseman, who died in August after a private four-year battle with colon cancer, filmed the movie about a year before his death. According to the film’s director George C. Wolfe, playing Levee took an emotional and physical toll on the actor, who is already earning Oscar buzz for the performance. “Chadwick put his entire being into Levee, and in some respects Levee sort of demands that simply because of the Herculean scale of the role,” he told EW. “It’s a phenomenal character, and he put every ounce of his energy, heart, and passion into it. I remember literally once a week while we were filming, Chadwick would come over to me and say 'I'm so glad we had that two weeks of rehearsal, lord Jesus!'”
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom premieres on Netflix on Dec. 18.