John Boyega slams Disney's handling of his Star Wars character
The British actor had strong words about Finn's arc in The Rise of Skywalker during a new interview in British GQ.
While the franchise may have made Boyega a star, the actor has made it clear in subtle and, now, not-so-subtle ways that he felt the films treated him and his character unfairly.
“It’s so difficult to maneuver,” Boyega said while, according to the profile, "exhaling deeply." "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 story points out Boyega wasn't just criticizing the handling of his Stormtrooper-turned-Resistance fighter hero, but also other people of color in the cast like Naomi Ackie (Jannah), Kelly Marie Tran (Rose Tico), and Oscar Isaac (Poe Dameron), who is of Guatemalan and Cuban descent. The story says "the reordered character hierarchy of 2017's The Last Jedi was particularly hard to take" in the wake of how the characters were first introduced in 2015's The Force Awakens.
“Like, you guys knew what to do with Daisy Ridley, you knew what to do with Adam Driver,” he 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--k 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.”
Yet at the same time, Boyega added, “I’m the only cast member who had their own unique experience of that franchise based on their race. 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.”'
Tran saw her role reduced in The Rise of Skywalker, which co-writer Chris Terrio said was due to technical challenges pulling off scenes of Rose Tico interacting with the late Carrie Fischer. "The last thing we were doing was deliberately trying to sideline Rose," he said.
The news follows Ridley noting that she struggled for roles in the wake of her time on Star Wars. "Weirdly, at the beginning of the year nothing was coming through," she said. "I was like, 'Aww! No one wants to employ me' ... there were actually loads of things that I auditioned for at the beginning of the year and didn’t get any of them."
Boyega has had quite a journey over the last year. One of the actor's top-secret The Rise of Skywalker scripts ended up on eBay before the film was released after he left it in his apartment, then was recovered before its spoilers could leak. The actor was also criticized for appearing to call Tran "weak" for her handling of social media abuse, then apologized for his statement. Boyega also gave a speech against racism in June at a Black Lives Matter protest in London that drew acclaim.