Star Wars: John Boyega Reflects Casting, Poor Decisions at Lucasfilm

John Boyega never stopped being passionate about speaking his mind on the wrongs he sees, whether if it's Black Lives Matter or the questionable decisions from Disney and Lucasfilm during his time in the Star Wars franchise. The actor spoke to British GQ about his life and career, including his time in the sequel trilogy. Boyega started to develop his voice more around the time The Force Awakens (2015) came out. "During the press of [The Force Awakens], I went along with it," he said. "And obviously at the time, I was very genuinely happy to be a part of it. But my dad always tells me one thing: 'Don't overpay with respect.' You can pay respect, but sometimes you'll be overpaying and selling yourself short."

John Boyega attends the premiere of Disney's "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker" on December 16, 2019 in Hollywood, California. Editorial credit: Silvia Elizabeth Pangaro / Shutterstock.com
John Boyega attends the premiere of Disney's "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker" on December 16, 2019, in Hollywood, California. Editorial credit: Silvia Elizabeth Pangaro / Shutterstock.com

Upon hindsight, after The Last Jedi (2017) and The Rise of Skywalker (2019), Boyega didn't mince words when it came to how his character Finn, a former Stormtrooper who found his way to be a leader in the Resistance, was treated in the sequel trilogy. "It's so difficult to manoeuver," he recalled. "You get yourself involved in projects, and you're not necessarily going to like everything. [But] what I would say to Disney is do not bring out a black character, market them to be much more important in the franchise than they are, and then have them pushed to the side. It's not good. I'll say it straight up." The actor not only spoke about his own experience but also felt other POC like Naomi Ackie, Kelly Marie Tran, and Oscar Isaac (who Boyega calls "a brother from Guatemala"), who played Jannah, Rose, and Poe, respectively all got lost in the shuffle.

John Boyega as Finn and Gwendoline Christie as Captain Phasma in Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017). Image courtesy of Lucasfilm
John Boyega as Finn and Gwendoline Christie as Captain Phasma in Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017). Image courtesy of Lucasfilm

"Like, you guys knew what to do with Daisy Ridley, you knew what to do with Adam Driver," Boyega said. "You knew what to do with these other people, but when it came to Kelly Marie Tran when it came to John Boyega, you know f*** all. So what do you want me to say? What they want you to say is, 'I enjoyed being a part of it. It was a great experience…' Nah, nah, nah. I'll take that deal when it's a great experience. They gave all the nuance to Adam Driver, all the nuance to Daisy Ridley. Let's be honest. Daisy knows this. Adam knows this. Everybody knows. I'm not exposing anything." Ridley and Driver played Force wielders Rey and Kylo Ren, respectively.

Boyega remains grateful for the opportunities the Star Wars franchise allowed him to do and even understood some of the decisions Lucasfilm made like bringing back director J.J. Abrams for The Rise of Skywalker. "Everybody needs to leave my boy alone," he said. "He wasn't even supposed to come back and try to save your s***." The actor remembers the adversity and pettiness he faced since he was originally cast in the 2015 film and the recovery he's made since encountering the toxicity. "I'm the only cast member who had their own unique experience of that franchise based on their race," Boyega said. "Let's just leave it like that. It makes you angry with a process like that. It makes you much more militant; it changes you. Because you realize, 'I got given this opportunity, but I'm in an industry that wasn't even ready for me.' Nobody else in the cast had people saying they were going to boycott the movie because [they were in it]. Nobody else had the uproar and death threats sent to their Instagram DMs and social media, saying, 'Black this and black that and you shouldn't be a Stormtrooper.' Nobody else had that experience. But yet people are surprised that I'm this way. That's my frustration." You can read more about Boyega's activism and his latest limited series Small Axe for BBC at British GQ.

About Tom Chang

I'm a follower of pop culture from gaming, comics, sci-fi, fantasy, film, and TV for over 30 years. I grew up reading magazines like Starlog, Mad, and Fangora. As a professional writer for over 10 years, Star Wars was the first sci-fi franchise I fell in love with. I'm a nerd-of-all-trades.

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