John Boyega played Finn in three Star Wars films between 2015 and 2019.
However, his role was severely diminished in the last two films.
Boyega is now opening up about racism from fans and how Disney sidelined his character.
John Boyega has always been a talented actor—he marveled in Attack the Block and Half of a Yellow Sun—but the Star Wars franchise is what made him a star. Boyega first played Finn in 2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and he brought the stormtrooper-turned-resistance fighter to life with an incredible sense of intensity, humor, and strength.
However, in an extensive interview with British GQ (his first since finishing the franchise in last year’s The Rise Of Skywalker), Boyega opened up about how tough it was to deal with his character's haphazard storyline and diminished screentime in The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker.
"It’s so difficult to maneuver. You get yourself involved in projects and you’re not necessarily going to like everything," Boyega said. "[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."
Boyega also acknowledged that his experience in the franchise was clouded by the fact that the meatier storylines were not given to him or the other people of color in the cast, including Naomi Ackie, Kelly Marie Tran, and Oscar Isaac.
"Like, you guys knew what to do with Daisy Ridley, you knew what to do with Adam Driver. 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 fuck all," he explained. "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."
And while most fans loved both Boyega and Finn, there was a very vocal subset of fans that tried to bully the British actor, and there was even an attempted boycott of the film after it was first revealed that Finn would be a Stormtrooper:
"I’m the only cast member who had their own unique experience of that franchise based on their race...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."
However, Boyega isn't letting the negative experience slow him down at all, and his speech at Britain’s Black Lives Matter rallies in June has placed him at the forefront of racial justice and social change. His next role will see him starring in Steve McQueen’s six-part anthology series Small Axe, premiering on BBC One and Amazon Prime later this year.
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