John Boyega has accused Disney of marketing his character in Star Wars as an important figure before pushing him aside.
The Peckham-born actor, 28, played Finn, the franchise’s first black Stormtrooper, in the recent trilogy alongside Daisy Ridley’s Rey and Adam Driver’s villainous Kylo Ren.
However, Finn’s screen time diminished in sequel The Last Jedi and denouement The Rise of Skywalker.
During Britain’s Black Lives Matter rallies in June, #JohnBoyega wrote his name in the history of racial justice. Here, in his first interview since finishing #StarWars and that unguarded address from a Hyde Park stage, our October cover star explains how both platforms inspired him to make a stand, but for very different reasons. LINK IN BIO for the full interview with @jimfamished. Photography by @dannykasirye. Styled by @luke_jefferson_day. Creative Direction by @paulsolomonsgq. // #GQ Editor @dylanjonesgq
A post shared by British GQ (@britishgq) on Sep 2, 2020 at 12:00am PDT
Boyega told British 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.”
Boyega claimed Disney, which distributes Star Wars, had given more “nuance” to his co-stars and suggested the company did not know how to treat him as a black actor.
“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 (who played Rose Tico and has Vietnamese heritage), when it came to John Boyega, you know f*** 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.”
Boyega said his experience with the franchise, as well as the abuse he received on social media, had made him more “militant” about racial inequality.
He continued: “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 realise, ‘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.”
The trilogy came to a conclusion with The Rise Of Skywalker last year and its main cast members are not expected to reprise their roles in the near future.
In June, Boyega played a prominent part in the Black Lives Matter protests in London.
The actor made an emotional speech in Hyde Park which referenced the death of George Floyd.
He told the magazine: “I feel like, especially as celebrities, we have to talk through this filter of professionalism and emotional intelligence.
“Sometimes you just need to be mad. You need to lay down what it is that’s on your mind. Sometimes you don’t have enough time to play the game.”
Read the full feature in the October issue of British GQ available from Friday September 4.