When the character of Finn was first introduced to the world in a 2014 trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, he was a protagonist wrapped up in mysterious drama and intrigue. A stormtrooper setting off on his own was a whole new direction for the legendary franchise, but at the end of the new trilogy, Finn was relegated to a glorified sidekick with notably less screen time than Rey or Kylo Ren. Now, the actor behind Finn is opening up about his character's arc, and John Boyega's quotes about diversity issues in Disney's Star Wars films do not hold back. (Elite Daily reached out to Disney for comment about Boyega's quotes but did not hear back in time for publication.)
In a wide-ranging profile for GQ, Boyega expressed his disappointment in how the recent Star Wars trilogy handled characters of color, as well as how the franchise's fanbase reacted to these new characters. Boyega accused Disney of making his character Finn initially seem important, only to sideline him in the films: "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 in the Sept. 2 interview.
Boyega is referring to Finn's diminished storylines throughout the sequel trilogy; he went from one of the two perceived protagonists in the first film to a supporting role in The Rise of Skywalker. To highlight his point, Boyega compared his character's arc to the nuance the films gave to Daisy Ridley's Rey and Adam Driver's Kylo Ren. He also brought up co-star Kelly Marie Tran, who received vehement backlash from Star Wars fans over her character Rose Tico and then barely appeared in The Rise of Skywalker:
Like, you guys knew what to do with Daisy Ridley, you knew what to do with Adam Driver. 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*ck 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.
Since The Rise of Skywalker wrapped, Boyega has been vocal about the racism within the Star Wars fandom on social media. He told GQ being the only Black main cast member in the sequel trilogy led to constant online harassment:
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.’ 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.
With Star Wars now in his past, Boyega has been focusing on using his voice for activism in recent months. Over the summer, he went viral for giving a passionate speech at a protest following the murder of George Floyd. He's not done acting, though. Next up, Boyega will star in the film Naked Singularity and is helming the upcoming British anthology series Small Axe with Letitia Wright.