British actor John Boyega is speaking out over the treatment of his character in the “Star Wars” trilogy. During an interview with GQ magazine, the 28-year-old slammed Disney, claiming that they initially positioned him as a main character in the film, only to push him to the side later.
“You get yourself involved in a project, and you’re not necessarily going to like everything,” Boyega said. “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, who played the fictional character Finn, one of the few Black characters in the “Star Wars” films, was initially unveiled to fans as a critical player in the sci-fi epic. Finn even picked up a lightsaber in the 2015 installation “The Force Awakens,” but the character eventually faded to the back in subsequent films alongside Kelly Marie Tran— an Asian American actor who emerged as a leading character in the new trilogy’s second film but had a notably reduced role in the third.
The actor dove further into his discontent, saying, “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—k all.” He continued, “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.”
Despite Disney’s celebration surrounding the introduction of new characters of color to the franchise, Boyega and Tran’s casting did not come without an uproar from fans. Some supporters of the franchise suggested boycotting the movie rather than watch Boyega lead the film.
“I’m the only cast member who had their own unique experience of that franchise based on their race,” Boyega explained. “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.”
In June 2020, the actor was praised for a powerful speech he delivered on racism in London’s Hyde Park. The speech was given at a Black Lives Matter rally on June 3 in response to the killing of George Floyd, a Black man who died after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes.
As of today, Boyega says he is “done” with “Star Wars,” as he’s set to star in Steve McQueen’s upcoming Amazon anthology series “Small Axe.” Boyega will play a Black police officer who joins London’s Metropolitan Police to fight institutional racism from within the force.