Image Courtesy of GQ Magazine UK
By Isa Pardino
On September 2, GQ’s Jimi Famurewa sat down with actor and producer John Boyega. The interview commenced with Famuerwa speaking about the pandemic and the effect it has had on Boyega and his work. They then went on to discuss Boyega’s devotion to the Black Lives Matter movement along with Boyega’s impromptu speech at a recent protest in London.
Boyega also opened up about his time working with Disney.
“You get yourself involved in projects and you’re not necessarily going to like everything,” said Boyega. “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 have them pushed to the side. It’s not good.”
Boyega, a beloved character in the Star Wars franchise, has played the role of Finn in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and Star Wars:The Rise of Skywalker. Boyega, who in Star Wars: The Force Awakens played the “rogue stormtrooper who wielded a lightsaber”, was pushed to the sidelines by Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Boyega not only spoke of his place in the franchise, but also his observations on how some of his colleagues, also people of color, were enduring the same kind of treatment.
Boyega’s character Finn played an important role in Star Wars: The Force Awakens; however, as the franchise developed, the focus shifted to Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and Rey (Daisy Ridley), leaving Finn (John Boyega) and the other cast members of color cast aside.
“They gave all nuance to Adam Driver, all the nuance to Daisy Ridley,” said Boyega.
Boyega delved into the subject of his unique and disheartening experience of fans saying that they would boycott the movie because a black man (Boyega) was cast in it. While the actor realizes that this role was an “amazing opportunity” and a “stepping stone” that opened many doors for him in the film industry as well as his personal life, he feels it is his responsibility to bring to light the shortcomings of the Star Wars franchise in order to show the difficulties of working in what can feel like a permanently manipulated system.