John Boyega can count his role as Finn in the latest Star Wars trilogy as his star turn, but in a new interview, he explained that the character's arc in The Rise of Skywalker didn't receive the same attention as his white co-star's roles. In an interview in British GQ. he called out Disney for marketing him and Finn in a certain way and not following through in the movies.
"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," he said.
Finn, who appeared on posters and in movie trailers, is a Stormtrooper-turned-Resistance fighter, debuted in 2015's The Force Awakens. From there, Boyega says, "the reordered character hierarchy of 2017's The Last Jedi was particularly hard to take." He added that it wasn't just him. He mentioned that his non-white costars faced similar trajectories, including Naomi Ackie, Kelly Marie Tran, and Oscar Isaac.
"Like, you guys knew what to do with Daisy Ridley, you knew what to do with Adam Driver," he said of the plotlines for various characters. "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? 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 also noted that none of the other cast members feel the same way — and that none of them faced the same criticism that he did as a Black actor in an established universe with die-hard fans. He goes as far as saying that while he was being given a huge opportunity, many weren't "ready" to see a Black actor playing a Stormtrooper.
"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,'" he said. "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."
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