"They gave all the nuance to Adam Driver, all the nuance to Daisy Ridley. Let's be honest."
John Boyega is not happy with his Star Wars experience.
In his first interview since concluding the sequel trilogy, the actor slammed the franchise for sidelining Black and POC actors.
In the searing GQ piece, he accused Disney of marketing his character — Stormtrooper-turned rebel leader Finn — as a central part of the story, before focusing all the attention on the white characters.
"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," he said.
And he wasn't just talking about himself; he referred to Kelly Marie Tran's Rose Tico, introduced as a plot-centric character in The Last Jedi, only to be relegated to a practical cameo in the final film... which must have been particularly stinging for the Asian actress whose casting had — like Boyega's — been the target of horrific racist abuse.
"Like, you guys knew what to do with Daisy Ridley, you knew what to do with Adam Driver," he said. "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."
"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."
While he acknowledges Star Wars was an "amazing opportunity" and a "stepping stone" to the platform he now has, he also said he was wary of "overpaying" respect.
"... obviously at the time I was very genuinely happy to be a part of it. But my dad always tells me one thing: 'Don't overpay with respect.' You can pay respect, but sometimes you'll be overpaying and selling yourself short.'"
He said that during the press tour of "The Force Awakens" he was noticing things, like his stylist "cringing at certain clothes I wanted to go for", or his hairdresser who clearly had no experience working with Black hair but "still had the guts to pretend" — but he just smiled and "went along with it."
Boyega was at pains to not place blame at JJ Abrams' door; the director was only supposed to helm Episode VII, which teased a promising arc for Finn. But by the time Abrams was brought back in to replace Colin Trevorrow and somehow salvage a saga that was reportedly supposed to revolve around the now deceased Carrie Fisher's Princess Leia, it was — in the actor's opinion — too late.
“Everybody needs to leave my boy alone," he said of the Rise of Skywalker director. "He wasn’t even supposed to come back and try to save your shit."
While Boyega bullishly shrugged off the cornered-but-no-less-despicable racism that greeted his casting, he admitted in the article that it took its toll on him.
"I'm the only cast member who had their own unique experience of that franchise based on their race,” he said. "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]. 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."
Taking to Twitter after the interview was published, Boyega insisted it was not a witch hunt, and encouraged people to read the entire piece before commenting.
"These conversations and me sharing isn’t about a witch hunt," he wrote. "It's about clarity to an anger that can be seen as selfish, disruptive and self indulgent. Obviously in hopes of better change. Bruh. In short. I said what I said. Love to you all seriously. Your support is amazing!"
He added: "If you can't read the full article pls pls let your top lip and bottom lip become one."
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.Bruh. In short. I said what I said. Love to you all seriously. Your support is amazing ! ❤️