John Boyega Discusses Being the New Face of Star Wars in the Midst of Ongoing Backlash

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Photography by Mark Mann

Since his breakout performance in 2011’s sci-fi invasion flick, Attack the Block, British-Nigerian actor John Boyega has been making a splash in the entertainment industry.

Now, Boyega is set to star in the next installment of the Star Wars franchise, The Force Awakens, as the character Finn. Since the first teaser trailer, there has been backlash over his casting. At first, fans were outraged because Boyega plays a Black stormtrooper.

As more promotional material was released, there was even more backlash once it was revealed that he will be a Jedi Knight. In a bold move for the franchise’s future, Boyega is the new face of the Star Wars franchise for years to come.

This past week, Boyega has been featured in high profile interviews with CNET and The Hollywood Reporter discussing why he was attracted to his new character Finn and Star Wars. In his CNET interview, Boyega states:

I like the way an individual explores the good side and the bad side of the Force. The funny thing to me is, it’s a commentary about mistakes. It’s always been said that Anakin Skywalker was going to bring balance to the Force, right? He eventually did, but in another way. So it just talks about us as human beings. We start off one way, with our own plan, and then life happens. Perhaps we reach a goal; perhaps we don’t. I just love the human commentary.

It’s commentary on life. Add some spaceships, controlling things with your mind and stuff, and you’ve got a cool space opera.

This year has been extraordinary for the young actor. Despite the controversy and racism from some hardcore fans, Boyega will serve as an inspiration for young Black kids who’ve never seen a Black character play a prominent role in the franchise. He isn’t Lando Calrissian or Mace Windu, two characters who supports the main protagonists to carry out their goals— this story is about Finn and it is refreshing.

“I’ve never seen myself in that kind of format before — in a movie that is probably the biggest movie of all time,” says Boyega in The Hollywood Reporter. “It’s a culture. It’s like a religion for some people.”

Boyega is immortalized on store shelves as an action figure, and he will take center stage when Star Wars: The Force Awakens hits theaters on Dec. 18.

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