Dalton Ross
August 03, 2017 AT 10:00 AM EDT

J.J. Abrams charmed audiences and critics alike when he brought Star Wars back to the big screen with The Force Awakens in 2015. But how will the latest trilogy in the franchise fare now that a new director has taken over the reins for The Last Jedi (in theaters Dec. 15)?

The man who plays Finn, John Boyega, stopped by EW Morning Live (Entertainment Weekly Radio, SiriusXM, channel 105) to chat about his searing new film Detroit, and we also asked the actor all about how filming on Episode VIII was different with Rian Johnson running the show. “Being a different person comes with a different energy, a different perspective, and Rian definitely has his own unique style,” says Boyega. “Rian is just fun. Rian is just a fun guy. I have a feeling he is Santa Claus. I think Santa Claus is a part time director when it comes to December. He grows out the beard then does his thing, because he just so giving, he’s cheerful on set, and it’s always a fun time.”

Boyega thinks having a different director on each of the new episodes is the perfect way to keep the franchise fresh 40 years in and counting. “What people fail to understand sometimes is that the success of these stories that will stay with us long-term is to bring new ideas, is to expand the universe. So we can have new stories, new people, just a different perspective is awesome. [Rian] had a chance to really go crazy, and I’m a big Star Wars buff so certain things I saw I was just like ‘Well, that’s a first.’ And that, for me, is really cool to experience.”

He also notes that the second time around felt different, no longer being a newbie to the galaxy far, far away. “The second one was like coming home in a strange way going through a weird déjà vu, but this time you’re more comfortable. You’re settled in your character and you’re ready to go, but it was definitely different because now you’re known as Finn and there’s Rey and you’re just part of the culture in a strange way.”

What makes Finn a unique character is that when we first meet him he is the first hero from the franchise to be legitimately scared about what is going on, which led to some of The Force Awakens’ funniest moments. It’s a tact he honed during his auditions for the role. “During the auditions I found that my niche for this character was definitely in the more humor and fear,” says Boyega. “So he just represents us in the film — just finally having a Star Wars character that goes, ‘This is really dangerous.’ Finn is a part of myself, just magnified a tad. And it was fun to do that. It was just hilarious because while Rey is handling all the stress of life, I get to just run around and do all the cool stuff and say all the cool lines and have fun.”

While Boyega is mostly all smiles about his experience filming The Last Jedi, he does have one complaint abut working with director Johnson. “I have to say, I hate his playlist on his iPhone. He has the country version to every great hip-hop song ever made and I don’t understand where he got that from. It’s treachery. It’s blasphemous. Apart from that, he’s amazing.”

To hear Boyega talk more about Star Wars, his upcoming Pacific Rim sequel, and Detroit — as well as our interviews with Avengers/Wind River star Elizabeth Olsen and Orphan Black co-creator Graeme Manson— you can listen to the EW Morning Live podcast above. Or subscribe on iTunes to listen on the go. And for more EW Morning Live podcast news, follow us on Twitter @EWMLPodcast.

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