Meet Your New Fave: John Boyega
Lainey set me up yesterday to talk about the New New Star Wars TV spot with Lupita Nyong’o’s voice making leading statements about “eyes”. You can see the spot here. I have some theories about what’s going on in The Force Awakens, especially about Daisy Ridley’s Rey. If you want to get into it, email me and we can get nerdy out of range of spoiler babies who don’t want to know anything, even conjecture. I also think all the trailers and TV spots are purposefully misdirected. It’s the JJ Abrams School of SECRETY SECRETS, so I’m not putting a lot of stock in any of this because I think it’s all red herrings. We don’t actually know whose “same eyes” Lupita is referencing in that scene. It’s cut to make us think Rey, but it could be Kylo Ren or John Boyega’s Finn just as easily. Speaking of Boyega…
In 2011 I met John Boyega while he was promoting Attack The Block in the US. He was nineteen and it was his first movie, and he was predictably excited and nervous to be on the shill for a feature film. The movie was very well received, and everyone kept comparing him to a young Denzel Washington—not unfounded—but I remember him just being grateful that people liked the movie. He was worried American audiences wouldn’t be able to make out his thick South London accent in the film, and he was anxious to know if I understood him. I told him it clicked after the first few minutes, then wasn’t a problem. He grinned—he’s got a big, face-eating smile—and laughed, relieved. I remember his smile and his laugh, and how glad he was that I liked his movie. Sincerely glad. This is a sincere guy.
I heaped a lot of praise on Boyega in Attack the Block, but in the years since then, he didn’t do much of note—until he landed one of the leads in New New Star Wars. Now twenty-three, Boyega is once again promoting a movie and worrying about how people will react to it, and all of that sincerity seems to be intact. He’s on the cover of The Hollywood Reporter—so is co-star Daisy Ridley—talking about Star Wars and the pressure and the potentially life-altering fame that awaits him:
“This is the first Star Wars movie in the age of social media, and it’s a different path. The stories [Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford] they’ve shared …I’ve been able to pick out a few things that are beneficial, but in terms of direct advice none of them have given any.”
Harrison Ford’s famous comment is that “Star Wars made us famous, not actors,” and that’s going to be the challenge facing Boyega (and Ridley, too). Not only will he have to deal with the absolute bedlam of starring in what is sure to be one of the biggest—if not THE biggest—movies of all time, he’s also going to have to balance franchise work with other, more character-driven stuff to make sure he has a career to get back to after his term with Star Wars ends; Star Wars is not a “set for life” proposition, just ask Mark Hamill or Hayden Christensen.
So it’s a relief to hear that Boyega’s Hollywood mentor is not a Jedi but an Avenger. In a video interview with THR, Boyega says that RDJ is actually the one giving him advice and talking him through the process of becoming a major Hollywood star. Who better to have on your side than the Senior Class President of Hollywood, who’s been through it all and knows all the ins and outs? I want this to work out for Boyega. I want New New Star Wars to be the start, not the pinnacle. I want that sincerity rewarded, because it’s rare. Here’s Boyega’s interview, including his great laugh:
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