After the release of “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” back in December of last year, you could almost feel this collective relief felt by the cast members involved, including Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, and John Boyega. There was this idea that those three actors were happy to be involved but the toxic fandom that developed over the course of the new trilogy led to some serious frustrations from all involved. And the one who has been most vocal with those issues is John Boyega.
Speaking to GQ, the actor, who played Finn in the three newest Skywalker Saga films, expressed his beliefs regarding how his character was treated and how he wasn’t fully embraced by fandom due to his race. And as you might expect, the actor who has been on the frontlines of recent Black Lives Matter protests isn’t pulling his punches anymore.
“You get yourself involved in projects and you’re not necessarily going to like everything,” said Boyega about his run on ‘Star Wars.’ “[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.”
His obvious annoyance comes from the fact that ‘The Force Awakens,’ which introduced the three new actors to the ‘Star Wars’ fold, was marketed as if Boyega was the star and the newest Jedi that would lead the trilogy. Then, as was revealed in the film, Rey (Ridley) was secretly the star this whole time. And in subsequent films, it was clear that Finn’s story was pushed to the back burner, often relegated to B-plots with fellow actor Kelly Marie Tran.
“Like, you guys knew what to do with Daisy Ridley, you knew what to do with Adam Driver,” he explained. “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 continued, “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.”
Ultimately, it would seem as if Boyega felt singled out amongst the cast of the new films, not because of his character being underwritten or misused, but because he’s Black and there were portions of fandom that were pretty upset that a Black character was being used so heavily in the films.
“I’m the only cast member who had their own unique experience of that franchise based on their race,” he said. “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.’”
Boyega added, “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.”
Obviously, Boyega feels comfortable enough now to voice his true feelings, perhaps he’s inspired by the recent BLM protests and the fact that racism is being discussed every day in our society. Plus, you can’t help but applaud anyone, actor or no, that is willing to use their platform to not mince words when talking about Disney, the largest film studio on the planet. And let’s be real, love him or hate him, Boyega is an honest guy and no one can deny his frustrations with the story of his character in “Star Wars” are rooted in truth. Finn was brutally misused in the latter two films, and that has to be upsetting for the actor portraying the character.