Exclusive: John Boyega Talks Star Wars: The Last Jedi

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Exclusive: John Boyega Talks Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Posted by Wilson Morales

December 13, 2017

Opening in theaters this week (December 15) from Walt Disney Studios and Lucasfilm is the highly anticipated Star Wars: The Last Jedi aka Star Wars: Episode VIII. 

THE LAST JEDI is written and directed by Rian Johnson and produced by Kathleen Kennedy and Ram Bergman and executive produced by J.J. Abrams, Jason McGatlin, and Tom Karnowski.

It’s the second installment in the Star Wars sequel trilogy following Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015). The film stars Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Gwendoline Christie, and Andy Serkis in returning roles.

New cast members include Benicio del Toro, Laura Dern, and Kelly Marie Tran in unconfirmed roles. It is Fisher’s final film role following her death in December 2016. Johnson has stated that the story resumes immediately after the events of The Force Awakens.

For John Boyega, who plays Finn, a lot has happened in his film career since being cast in The Force Awakens. For one, he’s international known. Not many people saw him in the cult film favorite Attack the Block or in any of the indie films he’s appeared in such the Sundance film Inperial Dreams; but certain producers did and saw something in him that told them he’s a star ready for bigger things. Bigger things indeed. So much that Boyega is set to lead cast of his next film Pacific Rim Uprising, the sequel to the 2013 film that starred Idris Elba.

In the meantime, Boyega has much more fun being among legendary actors Mark Hamill and the late Carrie Fisher as he pulls his weight with the cast of this continuing franchise that no longer has an endgame.

Blackfilm.com recently spoke with Boyega exclusively as he talked about his character Finn, working with the cast and what he’s learning from each director he’s worked with so far.

What adventures are we going to see Finn get into this time?

John Boyega: He’s coming back stronger and coming back fighting. I think the last time you saw him he got a slash in the back from Kylo Ren and he wakes up thinking he’s in that moment. And the first thing he says is, “Rey” because the last thing he saw was her getting force pushed into the trees, stood up to fight and now he’s in a bad spot. But he’s got so many unanswered questions. But that’s why he’s got Poe there. Poe’s there when he wakes up to give him the low down on what’s going on. And he’s ready to go back out there. I don’t think he liked being defeated.

Are we going to get more into what’s his real name?

John Boyega: There’s a connection about his origin for sure, about the planet and the way in which he came to be. And he’s starting to remember a lot of things. I think people will realize, the more Finn stays away from the First Order and their way of kind of brainwashing them, the more and more he remembers and realizes who he is and even in a sense that the performance is different because I played Finn in seven over the top and quite comedic because he didn’t, he was always like that. He was the guy that would crack the joke, have the Storm Troopers be like, “Dude, calm down.” And so now he’s started to get used to more human interaction and it’s something that we explore.

So is the personality the same or is it different?

John Boyega: No. For me when I first went on to episode seven I approached it knowing I would be impersonated as a character arc. It’s easy to be in these films and just allow the scripts to push you forward. And for me, the character arc is definitely important so that when I get to episode nine, you’re never going to get the same Finn. You wouldn’t recognize him from who you got in seven as his life. So that’s the process for me and obviously the director influences that and Rian surprised me with just like, yo, I feel the exact same way when we had a meeting before shooting, so.

Do you have any say at all in terms of your character, costume, or is it all on script?

John Boyega: No. Not necessarily. When the camera’s rolling, it’s just me. Just me, so I do what’s right. I do what’s right for the character. And Rian has the same mentality so it’s easier to get ideas across in terms of improv and that kind of stuff.

What’s it like now? Now you’re reprising a role as opposed to just doing a new film. It’s a new director, but you’re still playing the same character.

John Boyega: It’s great because you have to have a good story to push your character forward, for there to be a different style and nuance and performance and I think that we’ve definitely got this on this one. Rian’s been sure of it and then the story’s different. It’s unique, which is a big thing. So for me it just makes everything move forward and it’s easier for you to perform in that environment and you just naturally, you’re just not the same person. And you as a human being, you’re not the same person you were two years ago so that influences that character as well.

And what about Kelly Marie Tran? She’s the new kid on the block as you were in the last film. Your characters are connected from what we see in the trailer. What are we getting out of Finn and Rose and how is it working with Kelly?

John Boyega: Working with Kelly is too fun. Number one, as you said, I get to basically be a guardian angel to her while she goes through the same process I went through, which is a pleasure. First of all, she handled everything better than I did and it’s great to see her perform and, cause I was with her during the auditions. My fingers were crossed for her to book it and I know Rian was eager even from her first takes for her to book it. And so being on that whole journey with her, I feel like, I don’t know. I feel like some kind of father from a distance. Just proud of her.

How was the atmosphere on the set? Is it all serious or is there a moment where people can just relax?

John Boyega: Star Wars sets are not serious at all. Not at all. There’s too much going on. Someone’s putting their finger in Aiden’s nose. One person’s just running around trying to fight the droid. Everyone’s joking. It’s fun. Even the serious moments are larger than life. It’s part of the Star Wars brand. These characters fully are gonna die, they still have time to celebrate during battle. It’s fun. It’s larger than life.

You’ve been asked endlessly about Carrie, but just talk to me about working with Carrie and Mark and what was that dynamic like?

John Boyega: Oh they’re very generous. They’re very generous and there’s an understanding of the future of Star Wars especially in the way they speak and talk knowing that they can’t do the, see Carrie being gone and Mark can’t do the movies forever so there is a feeling of them passing on that kind of blessing to me, Daisy, Oscar, and Adam. And it feels nice to know they’re always willing to collaborate and it’s fun, especially watching Mark. I’ve come in on days that I wasn’t filming just to watch Mark do some of these scenes. It’s just epic.

How are your fighting skills in this movie?

John Boyega: My fighting skills are ridiculous. I go from weapon to weapon and it’s actually more challenging than the light saber because the front is heavier and you have to spin it.

What did you do physically this time? Were you working on something and just have to stay the same physically? Or did you have to gain or lose pounds for this?

John Boyega: I lost weight in the first half of filming knowing I was wearing the slim fit, really thin outfit. And then I put on weight for Detroit towards the back end knowing that the costume was more. So I figured the system out. It’s great. I had to pack on for Detroit.

When you’re putting on that costume how does it feel? Are you sweating inside?

John Boyega: Yeah. It depends on what you’re doing, but most of the time you’re gonna be cool and chill and comfortable. Resistance wear is quite comfortable. It’s high top boot, trousers, fitted belt, shirt, and a jacket. But it just looks spacey.

I’m always hearing that people take things from the set. What did you take from this one and what did you take last year and where are they now?

John Boyega: From the one last, Force Awakens, I didn’t take anything cause I was too scared. Now I’ve got a little bit of confidence. I took a stog from the red planet that you see in the trailer. They had a whole bunch of red stogs and I took one so, I put it in my pocket and stole it.

In the last five years from Attack the Block and The Force Awakens, you’ve catapulted internationally. What does that do to your psyche as an actor?

John Boyega: I think it’s less shocking when you’ve been working for this for a long time. Like the great scholar Drake said, “It was windy when I was shooting in the gym.” So it’s one of those, it’s that process. It feels unique. It feels surprising. But at the same time, it’s not because I was auditioning for Justice League and auditioning for all these different films. I was auditioning at the time and so for this to be the one, it feels like much more of a relief and it feels like a learning process as well, getting to learn how this works specifically. But I was prepared for it for a long time cause there was just no other option for me and it felt like this is where my future was headed.

When you did this, did this give you the confidence going into Pacific Rim knowing that you’re in a lead for that?

John Boyega: I think from a tad of luck. My first film I was elite. I just think it’s just my, the element in the theater. I really liked carrying the story and I just think that something like Pacific Rim is my chance to show another side of versatility within a studio system which people think doesn’t exist. Art does exist within us. I have my own accent. It’s not quite my accent but it’s a British accent nonetheless. And so I get to show a different side that isn’t Finn. I’ve got a line up. I get to influence this and produce it that, certain things that I put in that will make it unique to that franchise.

When you think about it, you’ve worked with J.J, you’ve worked with Spike, you’ve worked with Kathryn and Rian, what is the one thing you’re picking off all of these directors that you take onto your next project?

John Boyega: I mean there’s a complicate things when it comes to directors and that kind of stuff in a sense of what you acquire, stuff which all of them meant to your list, but it’s something that has been consistent to which I was surprised by, which is honesty. Honesty. Cause I feel like coming off of episode seven and the success of Star Wars seven or Star Wars eight, you being the director, you might come in feeling a bit like okay, I am the new kid and I don’t want to give accurate notes to the actor, rub him the wrong way. It’s never been like that. I don’t deal with the petty nonsense. I like honesty and notes and with skill and all of them have been honest. If it’s not right, don’t be like “Yeah. Try again”. And I like that. It’s consistent.

After Pacific Rim, where do we see you next?

John Boyega: I’m reading something now. I’m probably gonna take today and I’m gonna do it. A bit dark. It’s very, very dark. But I’ll be able to see more when the official news hits.


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