In a candid GQ interview two months ago Boyega expressed frustration that non-white characters are “pushed to the side” in the sequels to The Force Awakens, saying that Disney gave “all the nuance” to Adam Driver and Daisy Ridley’s characters.
Speaking to the BBC today ahead of the release of Steve McQueen’s Small Axe film Red White And Blue, Boyega was asked how the land lies with Star Wars producers after the comments.
Boyega explained: “So I got on a phone call with Kathleen Kennedy [Lucasfilm President] and she verbally showed support and we got to have a really nice, transparent, honest conversation that is beneficial to both of us.”
He continued: “I think these kinds of conversations, you can go into the realm of sounding like you’re just trying to save your own career, but what is great now is that it is a conversation that anyone has access to. Now people can express themselves about this knowing that any character we love, especially in these big franchises like the Marvels and Star Wars, we love them because of the moments that they are given, we love them because of those moments, and they’re heroic moments that these producers all decide for these characters so we need to see that in our characters that are maybe black and from other cultures.”
In September, Boyega told GQ: “You get yourself involved in projects and you’re not necessarily going to like everything. [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.”
He added: “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.”
In June, Kennedy called the actor a “hero” for a powerful speech he gave at a Black Lives Matter march in London following the killing of George Floyd.
Boyega told the BBC today that he hopes McQueen’s Small Axe films – which are about the experiences of London’s West Indian community in the 70s and 80s – can be taught in British schools “to educate them to survive in this world that is changing before our eyes.”
He also added that he is expecting to spend Christmas in LA where he is soon due to shoot Netflix sci-fi movie They Cloned Tyrone with Jamie Foxx and Teyonah Parris.
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