The enigma John Boyega: the latest twist of a star who rebels against Hollywood

Star Wars changed John Boyega’s life forever. His role as Finn, the former stormtrooper who ends up wielding a lightsaber and fighting the First Order alongside Han Solo and Chewbacca, would be one of the main axes of the trilogy that Lucasfilm shaped between 2015 and 2019, once the company was already under Disney ownership.

However, the saga concluded with the premiere of the unsatisfactory The rise of Skywalker, the British actor was categorical in admitting that he was not happy with his passage through the franchise. It took him almost a year to express it, but he finally decided to talk about the treatment that Finn was given in all three films, in front of the portrayal of the roles of his compatriot Daisy Ridley (Rey) and Adam Driver (Kylo Ren).

“What I would say to Disney is don’t bring up a black character, market him to be much more important in the franchise than he is and then put him aside. That’s not good. I’ll say it directly, ”he noted in the UK edition of GQ magazine last September. There he also stressed that “they gave all the nuances to Adam Driver, all the nuances to Daisy Ridley. Let’s be honest. Daisy knows. Adam knows. Everybody knows”.

Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) y Finn (John Boyega) en Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Foto: David James. ©2017 Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

That dialogue, in which the media highlighted that “John Boyega is not really the man you think he is. And now he’s finally ready for the world to know ”, was the first interview he conducted after closing his bittersweet stage with the saga created by George Lucas. A time when he also spoke about his role in the acclaimed anthology miniseries Small axe, in which he plays a British policeman who during the 1980s tried to attack the racism of the institution from within, for which in January he won the first Golden Globe of his career.

Now, in the middle of the awards campaign to achieve an Emmy nomination for that character, the 29-year-old actor set off the alarms when it was announced that he had abandoned the filming of a Netflix movie that had him as the protagonist. Titled Rebel ridge, the film is a thriller that featured Jeremy Saulnier (Green room) as director and a cast also consisting of AnnaSophia Robb, Don Johnson and James Cromwell.

At the beginning of June, the streaming service shared a statement in which it alluded to “family reasons” as the cause of Boyega’s retirement, which in turn triggered the project to be put on hold “temporarily”. The platform also confirmed that in the future it wanted to continue working with the interpreter, after in 2020 they signed an agreement to develop joint productions through their company, Upper Room.

That version, the only official one so far, is now being challenged by articles in the US media. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the film had just finished its first week of filming when the actor got off the film. An anomalous situation in the North American industry, where in the worst case the star completes his work despite his creative differences or rightly communicates his departure before starting the recordings.

The media also cites a person who points out that the filmmakers would have gone to his hotel room, they would not have found him, and only then did they learn that the Briton had abandoned the filming. Close to the production, specifies The Hollywood Reporter, they maintain that the interpreter would have had “innumerable problems” with the script of the film, but they rule out any type of incident during the days he was on set.

The actor in Small Ax. Photo: BBC

While his representative responded to that media calling these versions “completely false”, his retirement shakes the present of Boyega. It is not only revealed weeks after the closing of the Emmy voting, where he runs as a favorite against veterans like Bill Camp (Lady’s gambit) y Donald Sutherland (The undoing), but at times when you have an agenda full of projects. One of them is just a new premiere on Netflix, the science fiction movie They cloned tyrone, produced by and starring Jamie Foxx, which is due for release this year.

You should also begin filming the sequel to Attack the block (2011), the film with which a decade ago he became a promising talent from England, after being chosen at the age of 18 among 1,500 candidates to play the central role of the story.

The interpreter comes from a 2020 in which, in addition to launching heavy artillery against Disney, he starred in a remembered public intervention in Hyde Park, in London. The actor arrived with his sister at a demonstration in favor of Black Lives Matter without having any defined action, but ended up taking a megaphone and delivering a fiery speech in which he denounced racism. “I need you guys to understand how painful this shit is,” he yelled at the crowd. “I need them to understand how painful it is to be reminded every day that your career means nothing!”

The episode, viralized millions of times in networks while increasing worldwide outrage over the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor at the hands of the police, ended up distancing it from any old convention of what it means to be a Hollywood star, a nickname with the one who has never been particularly comfortable.

John Boyega in Hyde Park in June 2020.

He himself relived that day in his interview with GQ. “I feel like, especially as celebrities, we have to speak through this filter of professionalism and emotional intelligence,” he said. “Sometimes you just need to be angry. You need to make it clear what you think. Sometimes you don’t have enough time to be part of the game. “

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The enigma John Boyega: the latest twist of a star who rebels against Hollywood