Star Wars' John Boyega Explains How Racial Backlash Changed His View Of The Franchise

John Boyega in The Rise of Skywalker

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Despite Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker arriving in theaters nearly a year ago, it's still hard to believe that the Skywalker Saga is done. While the galaxy far, far away will continue to expand through live-action shows on Disney+, the franchise as we know it has come to an end. This has freed up the schedule of stars like Daisy Ridley and John Boyega, although the latter actor recently explained how racial backlash against him ultimately soured his feelings about the franchise.

John Boyega made his Star Wars debut in The Force Awakens, as Finn the ex-Stormtrooper. While fans were eager to dive back into the colorful franchise, Boyega was the subject of a ton of backlash ahead of the movie, largely for being a Black man in a leading role. The 28 year-old actor/producer recently spoke to how this affected his overall feelings about his time as Finn, saying:

I’m the only cast member who had their own unique experience of that franchise based on their race. Let’s just leave it like that. It makes you angry with a process like that. It makes you much more militant; it changes you. Because you realize, ‘I got given this opportunity but I’m in an industry that wasn’t even ready for me.’ 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.’ Nobody else had that experience. But yet people are surprised that I’m this way. That’s my frustration.

That was definitely honest, and shows the sides of fame that the general public might be easy to forget. Because while John Boyega put a ton of spirit into his three Star Wars movies, it seems the racially motivated backlash stuck with him throughout the process. And those feelings will likely change and evolve as Boyega has more space away from.... space.

John Boyega's comments come from his recent interview with GQ, where the actor got candid about the various difficulties he had throughout working on the Star Wars franchise. From hair stylists to fans, Boyega described how being Black altered his experience working on the space opera, and how complicated his feelings about Star Wars are a result.

John Boyega's tenure in the Star Wars franchise is currently streaming in its entirety on Disney+. You can use this link to sign up for the streaming service.

Of course, John Boyega isn't the only Star Wars cast member to face insane backlash from the Star Wars fandom. Rose Tico actress Kelly Marie Tran was the victim of intense online bullying following her debut in The Last Jedi, with attacks targeting her race and appearance. Eventually the actress left social media altogether as a result, while Boyega continues to engage with trolls on his own accounts.

In fact after the above interview was published, John Boyega took to Twitter to further clarify his thoughts on the situation, and encouraged any naysayers to read the full interview for context. In his words,

John Boyega is obviously a celebrity who uses his platform, even if that includes going toe to toe with trolls on social media. And despite the various death threats and terrifying messages he's been sent throughout the years, the 28 year-old actor is clearly showing no signs of giving up. We'll just have to see where Boyega's career goes now that Finn and Star Wars are in the rear view.

The Star Wars franchise's future is seemingly endless, now that it no longer has to be tied to the Skywalker Saga. Season 2 of The Mandalorian is coming to Disney+, after the first season earned a whopping 15 Emmy nominations. It's currently unclear when the property will return to theaters, although Taika Waititi is attached to work on his own movie within the beloved franchise.

CinemBlend will keep you updated on all things John Boyega and Star Wars. In the meantime, check out our 2020 release list to plan your next movie experience.

Corey Chichizola
Movies Editor

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Graduated with degrees theater and literature from Ramapo College of New Jersey. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his favorite actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid. He's particularly proud of covering horror franchises like Scream and Halloween, as well as movie musicals like West Side Story. Favorite interviews include Steven Spielberg, Spike Lee, Jamie Lee Curtis, and more.