Now that John Boyega has “moved on” from Star Wars, after starring in The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi, and The Rise of Skywalker (which he admits does have “some disappointments”), he’s able to talk freely about his time working with Disney. “It’s so difficult to maneuver,” he told GQ. “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 Attack the Block star says that Star Wars (and by proxy, directors J.J. Abrams and Rian Johnson) “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 f*ck 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.” He continued:
“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.”
Boyega is refreshingly candid, especially for someone in his profession, as he showed back in June during a Black Lives Matter speech. “I’m speaking to you from my heart,” he spoke through a megaphone. “Look, I don’t know if I’m going to have a career after this, but f*ck that.” About that moment of honesty, director Steve McQueen, who worked with Boyega on Small Axe, said, “He shone very brightly and I rang him a few days after to say thank you.” Small Axe opens the New York Film Festival on September 25.