John Boyega became a huge star thanks to his casting as one of the main characters in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Almost any actor would kill to get such a high caliber role to further their career, and Boyega was undoubtedly excited about having the biggest role given to a Black actor in the Star Wars saga…until he wasn’t.
In a recent interview, now that all the fluffy publicity of Star Wars is behind him, Boyega got brutally honest about his overall experience in a galaxy far, far away. And it’s clear that he feels quite frustrated with the direction, or lack thereof, that Finn was given in the new Star Wars trilogy.
Boyega didn’t hesitate to air out his grievances in this interview with GQ, and he started off by saying:
“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.”
Now that the actor feels like he’s paid his respects to Disney and Star Wars, he’s putting his more honest opinion out there about his involvement in the franchise and how the studio handled his character. Boyega said:
“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.”
Fans noticed that Finn was made to be more disposable as time went on too. Though The Force Awakens setup this fascinating character arc of a Stormtrooper defecting from the First Order to help the Resistance, any significance about this decision, where he came from, and his continued relationship with Rey were never really given their due diligence. Boyega added:
“Like, you guys knew what to do with Daisy Ridley, you knew what to do with Adam Driver. 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 fuck 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.”
Normally, you could brush this off as the consequence of being a supporting player in the Star Wars universe. But Finn was introduced as an important new main character alongside Rey, Poe Dameron, and Kylo Ren. So it’s understandable why Boyega would be frustrated to see the two white leads of the franchise taken care of so carefully while his character was left out in the wind.
If you need anymore evidence that there wasn’t as much attention paid to John Boyega’s character and the significance of being what should have been a proper Black lead character in Star Wars, the actor says the hairdresser hired for his character had zero experience with the hair of a Black man. It sounds like this might have been a problem for The Rise of Skywalker, because Boyega noted, “When black men grow out their hair it’s a very powerful thing. Culturally, it stands for something.” But no one seemed to understand that or care.
However, there is one part of Star Wars that Boyega has defended, and that’s J.J. Abrams. Though there have been a lot of complaints about how the director handled the end of the Skywalker saga when he came back to replace Colin Trevorrow as director, Boyega isn’t having any of that. The actor said:
“Everybody needs to leave my boy alone. He wasn’t even supposed to come back and try to save your shit.”
This seems to fall in line with John Boyega’s previously expressed feelings about how The Last Jedi was “a bit iffy” for him, mostly because it took all the characters and separated them instead of keeping them together as a trio. But that was also the beginning of Finn not having as integral of a role in the overall story, especially when it comes to his relationship with Rey. And it sounds like Boyega thinks Abrams did the best he could with what he was given.
These kind of problems just speak to the issue that Lucasfilm created by crafting each chapter of the new Star Wars trilogy individually as time went on instead of sitting down to plan a full three-movie arc that could be shepherded by a single filmmaker. Say what you will about the prequels, but at least there was a cohesive narrative there that could be easily tracked the whole way through and never felt like it was being made up willy-nilly as the franchise continued. We’re sorry that Boyega got caught up in the debacle and didn’t get to fulfill his dreams of being the Star Wars hero he hoped he would be.
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