Boyega appeared to call Tran “weak” for quitting social media in the wake of an online harassment campaign against the actress, who was the target of racist and sexist comments after she became the first female woman of color cast in a leading Star Wars role for The Last Jedi.
In an interview with Variety, Boyega was originally asked about the “double-edged sword” of social media in light of the abuse that led to Tran quitting online platforms. The actor said: “Through social media, we get to engage, we get to have fun. But at the same time, for those who are not mentally strong, you are weak to believe in every single thing that you read. That’s, you know, it is what it is. I don’t know, for me anyway, when I see that [backlash], I’m like, well, that’s actually not true. But no, it is actually not true. So it’s kind of like [shrugs] it is what it is. But to engage, to connect with the fans who otherwise wouldn’t get a day to day experience, especially during things like the press tour, and behind the scenes stuff, is always good.”
On Thursday, Boyega posted a message on Twitter to clarify: “In no way was I referring to Kelly when I made my comments although the interviewer mentioned her given the topic. I was really speaking from my own perspective throughout this franchise. Sometimes I’ve felt strong and sometimes I’ve felt weak. Badly worded though. I apologize.”
The actor also pointed out his comments about Tran’s harassment from 2018: “If you don’t like Star Wars or the characters, understand that there are decision makers and harassing the actors/actresses will do nothing. You’re not entitled to politeness when your approach is rude. Even if you paid for a ticket!”
In The Last Jedi, Tran’s character, Resistance engineer and pilot Rose Tico, saved Boyega’s character Finn from sacrificing himself during a battle. Her final line became a favorite among some fans: “We’re going to win this war not by fighting what we hate, but saving what we love.”
“I think that that is such a good logline for what Rose represents,” the actress told EW. “I remember a lot of people after seeing the film would ask me questions about that specific line. I think the idea of it is: What is motivating our actions? And if your actions are motivated by love, it’s such a powerful, wonderful thing. And I think that really does carry out in this film, in the things that we see Rose do.”
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker opens Dec. 20.