Actor Chadwick Boseman Image Credit: AP

Denzel Washington, the secret benefactor who once paid for Chadwick Boseman’s acting classes, has released a statement mourning the actor’s death.

“He was a gentle soul and a brilliant artist, who will stay with us for eternity through his iconic performances over his short yet illustrious career. God bless Chadwick Boseman,” said Washington.

Boseman, who died this week at the age of 43 after a four-year battle with colon cancer, once revealed that Washington paid for his tuition without his knowledge.

Denzel Washington Image Credit: Supplied

Before finding fame as the leading actor in Marvel’s superhero hit ‘Black Panther’, Boseman was enrolled at Howard University, when he had the opportunity to get into a summer exchange programme for acting at Oxford University.

Instructor Phylicia Rashad, best known for her role as Cher Huxtable on ‘The Cosby Show’, arranged for a group of her friends to help pay for students who couldn’t afford the expense, recalled Boseman.

“I’ve basically been keeping this secret my whole career. When I came back, I got a beneficiary letter, and it said: ‘Denzel Washington paid for you.’ I was like, ‘What?!’”

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Boseman didn’t want to reveal this fact to the world until he met Washington in person.

“I was doing that Rolling Stone interview and [the interviewer] asked me about it, and I was like, ‘I think I can say it now. I’ve made it to the point where he’s not going to think I’m trying to get something from him by saying it.’”

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But, Boseman ended up meeting Washington before the article came out, at the New York premiere of ‘Black Panther’.

“I was like, ‘I have to tell you something, you paid for me to go to school.’ And he said, ‘Oh, so that’s why I’m here! You owe me money. I’m here to collect,’” recounted Boseman, with a laugh, on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.