Chadwick Boseman Plugs Gritty ‘21 Bridges’ as ‘Black Panther’ Follow-Up

When you’re king of Wakanda, you get big applauses just for showing up.

“Black Panther” star Chadwick Boseman didn’t come to CinemaCon, the annual exhibition industry trade show unfolding this week in Las Vegas, to plug another “Avengers” movie. He was here to promote “21 Bridges,” a gritty action thriller that finds Boseman playing a police officer on the trail of robbers who killed eight cops in a heist gone violently wrong. But Boseman received a hero’s welcome, nonetheless, with the crowd of theater owners cheering him on as he took the stage at Caesars Palace as part of STX Films’ presentation to exhibitors.

“I’m pretty much living my best life,” Boseman said. Boseman produces the film in addition to appearing in it, and though he had many offers after dominating the box office, “21 Bridges” captured his attention with its intense look at a law enforcement officer willing to stop at nothing to get the bad guys.

“When I read the script, I could tell that it was going to be a ride,” Boseman said. “It took me back to my theater days when you have the fast-paced language like David Mamet.”

The title of the film references the lengths that Boseman goes to in order to find the killers. He shuts down all 21 bridges into Manhattan, stops trains, and cuts off the island from the rest of the world as he oversees a massive citywide manhunt. It’s personal for this particular NYPD detective, who had to deal with the trauma of having his police officer father murdered when he was a child.

In order to get into the mind of his character, Boseman went on ride-alongs, and shadowed police officers in the NYPD and the LAPD.

“At times it was a lot of fun … [but] it was horrific some of the things that you experience,” he said.

“21 Bridges” is directed by Brian Kirk (“Game of Thrones”), and produced by Joe and Anthony Russo (“Avengers: Infinity War”). Boseman was an active producer, according to STX Films chairman Adam Fogelson. He helped with casting decisions and pushed for producers to give a key role to Stephan James, one of the breakout stars of last year’s “If Beale Street Could Talk.”

“I called that one,” Boseman said.

STX Films is a relatively new player in the world of theatrical distribution. Launched in 2014, it focuses on mid-budget films such as “Bad Moms” and “The Upside” that are largely being overlooked by major studios. The studio has had successes, as well as failures such as “The Happytime Murders” and “Hardcore Henry,” but Fogelson argued that the goal has been to be “artist friendly” and to create a “collaborative, entrepreneurial work environment.”

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Amanda Awards

    ‘Out Stealing Horses’ Tops Norway’s 2019 Amanda Awards

    HAUGESUND, Norway —  Hans Petter Moland’s sweeping literary adaptation “Out Stealing Horses” put in a dominant showing at Norway’s Amanda Awards on Saturday night, placing first with a collected five awards, including best Norwegian film. Celebrating its 35th edition this year, the Norwegian industry’s top film prize helped kick off the Haugesund Film Festival and [...]

  • Editorial use onlyMandatory Credit: Photo by

    Richard Williams, 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit' Animator, Dies at 86

    Renowned animator Richard Williams, best known for his work on “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” died Friday at his home in Bristol, England, Variety has confirmed. He was 86. Williams was a distinguished animator, director, producer, author and teacher whose work has garnered three Oscars and three BAFTA Awards. In addition to his groundbreaking work as [...]

  • Instinct

    Locarno Film Review: 'Instinct'

    Now that “Game of Thrones” has finally reached its conclusion, releasing its gifted international ensemble into the casting wilds, will Hollywood remember just what it has in Carice van Houten? It’s not that the statuesque Dutch thesp hasn’t been consistently employed since her startling 2006 breakout in Paul Verhoeven’s “Black Book,” or even that she’s [...]

  • Good Boys Movie

    Box Office: 'Good Boys' Eyes Best Original Comedy Opening of 2019

    Universal’s “Good Boys” is surpassing expectations as it heads toward an estimated $20.8 million opening weekend at the domestic box office following $8.3 million in Friday ticket sales. That’s well above earlier estimates which placed the film in the $12 million to $15 million range, marking the first R-rated comedy to open at No. 1 [...]

  • Pedro Costa’s 'Vitalina Varela' Wins at

    Pedro Costa’s 'Vitalina Varela' Triumphs at Locarno Film Festival

    The 72nd Locarno Film Festival drew to a close Saturday with Portuguese auteur Pedro Costa’s dark and detached film “Vitalina Varela” coming away with several awards together with superlatives from segments of the hardcore cinephile crowd, including jury president Catherine Breillat. In announcing the Golden Leopard prize for the film, as well as best actress [...]

  • Vitalina Varela

    Locarno Film Review: 'Vitalina Varela'

    Frequently beautiful compositions and the theatrical use of a fierce kind of artifice have long been the hallmarks of Portuguese auteur Pedro Costa, regarded by a small but influential group of aesthetes as one of the great filmmakers of our era. For those in tune with his vision, the director’s films offer an exciting lesson [...]

  • Notre dame

    Locarno Film Review: 'Notre dame'

    Not to be too cynical about it, but might the recent horrific fire in Paris’ cathedral attract audiences to a film in which the gothic gem plays a major role? It’s likely a wiser marketing strategy than promoting the unrelenting silliness of Valerie Donzelli’s oh-so-kooky comedy “Notre dame,” the writer-director-star’s return to contemporary Paris following [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content