John Boyega is not letting Disney off the hook for how Star Wars mishandled his character. In his first major interview since Rise of Skywalker premiered last winter, the actor called out the way Finn and Kelly Marie Tran’s character, Rose Tico, were sidelined.
“Like, you guys knew what to do with Daisy Ridley, you knew what to do with Adam Driver,” Boyega told British GQ. “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.”
“So what do you want me to say?” Boyega continued. “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.”
Boyega has historically been relatively candid in expressing his feelings about Star Wars. In an interview with HypeBeast last year he also said that Rian Johnson’s controversial installment, The Last Jedi, was “a bit iffy for me.”
But speaking with GQ he went even further, discussing how “difficult to maneuver” the entire Disney experience can become.
“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.”
Although he was speaking about himself in that moment, Boyega clarified that he also believed other cast members of color—including Tran, Naomi Ackie (who played Jannah in Rise of Skywalker), and Oscar Isaac, who is Guatemalan-born, experienced the same treatment.
Boyega knows better than anyone that his role in the Star Wars franchise was an “amazing opportunity” and a “stepping stone.” Still, it seems his entire experience was tainted—from a stylist “cringing at certain clothes I wanted to go for,” to a hairdresser who did not know how to work with his hair, to the fan backlash and boycott threats that erupted the moment his Black stormtrooper character was revealed.
“I’m the only cast member who had their own unique experience of that franchise based on their race,” Boyega told GQ. “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],” Boyega continued. “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.”