John Boyega says that major franchises are 'luxury jail' for actors

Ben Arnold
·Contributor
·3-min read
John Boyega arrives at the British Academy of Film and Television Awards (BAFTA) at the Royal Albert Hall in London, Britain, February 2, 2020. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
John Boyega arrives at the British Academy of Film and Television Awards (BAFTA), 2020 (Credit: REUTERS/Henry Nicholls)

John Boyega has said that major franchise movies are little more than 'luxury jail' for actors.

Boyega was plucked from relative obscurity in 2014, when J.J. Abrams cast him in the role of Finn, the defecting stormtrooper in Star Wars reboot movie The Force Awakens.

Having gone on to appear in the sequels The Last Jedi and then The Rise of Skywalker, the London-born star now knows a thing or two about major franchises.

He also appeared in the big-budget Pacific Rim: Uprising in 2018, the second movie in a potential franchise which then faltered.

Finn (John Boyega) and Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) in STAR WARS: EPISODE IX.
Finn (John Boyega) and Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) in STAR WARS: EPISODE IX.

But recently, he's gained significant critical exposure by starring in one of Steve McQueen's Small Axe anthology movies, the 80s-set police racism drama Red, White and Blue.

Speaking during a Q&A session with CinemaBlend, he said: “Being in a big franchise, it’s kind of like luxury jail sometimes for an actor when you want to do something else.

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“Because remember, in a franchise you’re working on one character for many years, which can starve your other muscles.

“And in wanting to be in something where I knew that I’d play a different type of role, a different type of man, and then knowing Steve [McQueen] through, we’re all a part of the same industry so I’d heard about Steve’s directing style. I was really really curious and excited to have the opportunity anyway to be a part of it. And when it came through I was on the [telephone] like, ‘This is my moment.'”

Boyega in Small Axe (Credit: BBC)
Boyega in Red, White and Blue (Credit: BBC)

Boyega has been fiercely critical of how his character was marketed for the first Star Wars movie, and then sidelined in the later films.

He told GQ last year: “Like, you guys knew what to do with Daisy Ridley, you knew what to do with Adam Driver. 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 f*** all.

Cast members Daisy Ridley and John Boyega pose as they attend the premiere of "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker" in London, Britain, December 18, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
Daisy Ridley and John Boyega attend the premiere of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, 2019 (Credit: REUTERS/Henry Nicholls)

“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 later revealed that he'd had an 'honest' conversation with the studio following his comments.

Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter he said: “There was a lot of explaining on their end in terms of the way they saw things.

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“They gave me a chance also to explain what my experience was like. I'd hope that me being so open with my career, at this stage, would help the next man, the guy that wants to be the assistant DOP, the guy that wants to be a producer.

“I hope that the conversation is not such a taboo or elephant in the room now, because someone just came and said it.”

Boyega has just signed on to new Netflix movie The Formula, where he'll star alongside Robert DeNiro.

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