British actor discusses role in new ‘Star Wars’



The hotly anticipated film is set 30 years after “Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi,” and finds Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and his allies facing a new threat from the evil Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and his army of Stormtroopers.

John Boyega portrays Finn in The Force Awakens,” which debuts nationwide on Dec. 18.(COURTESY OF LUCASFILM/TNS)
John Boyega portrays Finn in The Force Awakens,” which debuts nationwide on Dec. 18.

Boyega, a British actor best known for playing Moses in his 2011 film debut “Attack the Block,” was the subject of harsh criticism from racist fans who just can’t wrap their heads around a young, handsome, Black man donning the sacred white battle armor.

The actor said he was not surprised by the reaction, but added that “We need to fixate on the real ‘Star Wars’ fans and not ruin the face of the fandom.”

What was the defining moment when you truly felt the dynamic of your presence in “The Force Awakens”?
Boyega: I think it was having the ability to be free with Finn as a character within a scene. It’s hard to get me on my mark (and) to get me to focus because Finn is just all over the place, and that’s an element in Finn that JJ definitely encouraged, even made me go, “I feel like I’m in a ‘Star Wars’ movie!’ I feel like I have a presence here.’ And that made things significant.

What can you tell us about the film that will not only satisfy hardcore fans, but also leave newcomers in awe and wanting more?
Boyega: I think it’s definitely a good balance between reference to the old, and enough new information to make a continuous story. So I feel like fans will be able to watch “The Force Awakens’’ for the first time but also be intrigued enough to go back because there are some really cool references that if you have been a “Star Wars’’ fan before, you’re gonna be like, ‘I heard that. I got that.’

With all the CGI and fantastical characters the film relies on, what did you find most challenging about preparing for your performance?
Boyega: The preparation itself. Most of the preparation happened during auditions, forming the character from scratch without much to go on, cause they didn’t give us a full script, and the sides gave the actors the ability to show the tones and depths of the characters, but were not specific to the story for spoilery reasons. So it was a challenge trying to gauge what was right and what didn’t quite work but JJ helped me through that process.

Your character has been immortalized in a video game. Did you ever imagine your career merging with the gaming world?
Boyega: I promised myself I won’t lie throughout my whole career, yes I did! (laughs). I’ve always wanted to say that. After “Attack the Block’’ and actively coming to the States, you’re aware of what types of opportunities, not specifically “Star Wars,’’ but aware that you have studio movies, and classic films and dramas that I wanted to be involved in. So in the future, I did see myself going on to do these epic movies, and it’s always been a dream. To be immortalized, not that I wanted that, but that naturally comes with a big picture. So that’s definitely something I hoped for.

Tell us about your wildest fan reaction.
Boyega: I went to the Met gala, and then went to an after party and as I stood there, I turned around and bumped into a young man. He looked at me and was like, ‘Oh my gosh! The Black stormtrooper!’ And it was Will. I. Am. (laughs) We embraced, and he was like ‘You’re really here!’’’

When you watch films, what angers you? Are there common themes that you find archaic that must be nixed?
Boyega: In terms of character, especially what we define as heroes, this element of perfection is the thing that just makes me go, “No – we can’t relate to that.’’ We watch the news, or we hear about someone who saves someone – they look normal, and they are not ripped to the nines, and I get the brand, but it’s also cool to have someone that captures the different physical attributes of the entire planet. They could also be heroes.



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