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John Boyega: Disney sidelined me in Star Wars over race

JOHN BOYEGA has accused Disney of marketing his Star Wars character as an important figure, then pushing him aside.

The 28-year-old Londoner played Finn (pictured), the franchise’s first black Stormtrooper, in the recent trilogy alongside Daisy Ridley as Rey and Adam Driver as Kylo Ren.

But Finn’s screen time decreased in The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker.

The Last Jedi: Boyega as Finn PICTURE: DISNEY

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 gave more ‘nuance’ to his co-stars and suggested the firm did not know how to treat him as a black actor. He said: ‘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 (who played Rose Tico and has Vietnamese heritage), when it came to John Boyega, you know f*** all.

‘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. Daisy knows this. Adam knows this. Everybody knows.’

Boyega, who made an emotional speech in London’s Hyde Park referencing the death of George Floyd during Black Lives Matter protests, said he has become more ‘militant’ about racial inequality.

He said: ‘I’m the only cast member who had their own unique experience of that franchise based on their race. 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”. But yet people are surprised that I’m this way. That’s my frustration.’

He told the magazine: ‘Sometimes you just need to be mad. Sometimes you don’t have time to play the game.’

However, some disagreed with Boyega’s comments. One Twitter user, calling themselves @FoxMulderr, said: ‘Boyega had the second most time in all three movies, only behind Ridley. Driver had much less time than both of them. The end.’ Another, Mark Partyka, asked: ‘How was John Boyega “pushed aside” by The Last Jedi? His combat with Phasma was one of the movie’s emotional highs.’

Disney has been approached for comment.

Read the full feature in the October issue of British GQ, on sale from Friday.