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John Boyega Gets Candid About His Star Wars Experience

Some people drop truth bombs; John Boyega prefers truth napalm.

The talented and outspoken star — who appeared in all three Star Wars sequel films as rogue Stormtrooper Finn — had a few choice comments about his experience working within the iconic franchise, which he shared during a recent conversation with British GQ. They're the kind of remarks sure to stoke the ire of Disney, the parent company of Lucasfilm, but if Boyega gives a rip how Mickey feels, it's not readily apparent.

Boyega was among the first major cast members to be announced when 2015's Star Wars: The Force Awakens entered production. He shared with British GQ that what should have been one of the most mind-blowing and happiest times of his life quickly soured when certain unsavory corners of the internet took issue with a Black man being cast in a lead role in a Star Wars movie

"I'm the only cast member who had their own unique experience of that franchise based on their race," Boyega explained. "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 [was] given this opportunity, but I'm in an industry that wasn't even ready for me.'"

Boyega went on to reveal that negative response to his casting contributed to him suddenly developing "horrible personality traits, [such as] anger," which prompted him to seek therapy in 2017. 

"Nobody else in the cast had people saying they were going to boycott the movie because [of them]. 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," the actor said. "But yet, people are surprised that I'm [angry]. That's my frustration."

John Boyega wasn't thrilled with how non-white characters were handled in the Star Wars sequel trilogy

Unfortunately, it wasn't just the aggressive, ignorant subsection of the Star Wars fandom that made Boyega's Star Wars experience a rocky one. Elsewhere in the interview, the star took Disney to task for what he perceived as a shallow attempt at inclusivity that ultimately relegated the sequel trilogy's cast members of color to the sidelines — particularly as the Star Wars sequel trilogy carried on with additional installments.

"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,'" Boyega said. "It's not good. I'll say it straight-up."

The actor then admitted that many Star Wars actors knew what was happening: that Disney was apparently purposefully pushing the sequel trilogy's non-white characters into the background, robbing them of the thoughtful character arcs they might have had. 

"Like, you guys knew what to do with Daisy Ridley [who portrayed Rey], you knew what to do with Adam Driver [who portrayed Kylo Ren]. "You knew what to do with these other people, but when it came to Kelly Marie Tran [who portrayed Rose Tico], when it came to John Boyega, you know f**k all," Boyega said. "They gave all the nuance to [Driver and Ridley's characters]. Let's be honest. Daisy knows this. Adam knows this. Everybody knows. I'm not exposing anything."

Boyega went on to clarify that he's perfectly aware that appearing in such a venerated franchise was an "amazing opportunity," one that has undoubtedly bolstered his career. But his exasperation with both Disney and the Star Wars fandom is palpable, and he even took a moment to offer a defense of The Force Awakens and The Rise of Skywalker director J.J. Abrams, who famously boarded the latter film after previously attached helmer Colin Trevorrow departed. (Infamously, many — including the film's editors — have argued that Abrams undid what writer-director Rian Johnson did with The Last Jedi, to the detriment of the trilogy as a whole.)

"Everybody needs to leave my boy alone," Boyega deadpanned. "He wasn't even supposed to come back and try to save your s**t."

Pretty much all of Twitter has John Boyega's back

As one might have expected, the British GQ interview caught the attention of the Twitterverse — and this time, fortunately, its denizens largely came out in firm support of Boyega. The general consensus: Not only is the actor brave, he's also right. 

"I'm glad you finally called Disney on their s**t," wrote @CriticalReader7. "Looking back on it John, your character should have been the protagonist of the whole damn thing. A stormtrooper gone rogue who turns out to be force-sensitive and trains to become a Jedi?? How was that NOT the plot?!?"

A slew of users took time to praise Boyega for saying what many members of the Black community have felt all along. "Black fans have been talking about this very thing since the beginning and at every turn we were ignored and ridiculed," wrote @imclosetocaring. "As much as it hurts to [acknowledge] your mistreatment, it's amazing to hear you speak out. You'll never know how important this is. Thank you John!" 

Meanwhile, another contingent of fans pointed out Boyega's dedication to the fans despite his experience. "I was at SW Celebration in 2019, in the artist section, and watched you spend hours in a giant crowd of fans, patiently taking pictures and meeting people with a big smile," wrote @Khallion. "I feel like we can love SW but hold it to a higher standard, call it out. You deserved better."

Boyega took time to acknowledge all the love — calling fans' support "amazing" and writing, "These conversations and me sharing isn't about a witch hunt. It's about clarity to an anger that can be seen as selfish, disruptive and self indulgent. Obviously in hopes of better change."

Well, it should go without saying, but we'll say it anyway: Change can't happen unless we point out what needs to be changed. Boyega has proven himself to be fearless in that respect, and that's one thing that we hope never changes.