- EntertainmentThe Telegraph
Sometimes when critics especially enjoy a film, we’re asked to host a Q&A; screening, at which the film itself is followed by an on-stage discussion during which audience members can put questions to “the talent”. You get to watch actors play themselves – or at least, versions of themselves that can think of no better way to spend an evening than on the publicity circuit – and the gulf between their screenbound and flesh-and-blood selves is often striking. That said, I’ve met three whose blockbuster charisma was entirely undimmed in person, and who at the end of the talk have had the auditorium spellbound, hanging on their every word. One was Tom Hanks – well, duh. Another was Meryl Streep – ditto. And the third was John Boyega. It was at an opening night screening of Star Wars: The Force Awakens in central London, and the panel was crammed with big names and bigger personalities, from Harrison Ford to Lucasfilm chief Kathleen Kennedy. But Peckham-born Boyega stole the show. Just 25 years old at the time (he’s 28 now), he spoke in a way that made the whole room crane in, even though most of it had probably neither seen nor heard of him before that night. (Pre-Star Wars, his biggest credits were a stint on the London-set 24 miniseries, a handful of independent dramas and the cult alien invasion thriller Attack the Block.) He told stories about his life on set, and before and after, with the almost mathematically calculated bounce and cadence of a great stand-up comic, but with none of the emotional distance that kind of technique often entails. I suspect everyone in that room believed we were listening to the real him speaking, regardless of whether we actually were, or if it was just another, more invisible kind of performance.
- U.S.PA Media: World News
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