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UK: The Preacher's Son Storms Hollywood

By Published December 23, 2015

He is the preacher’s son from Peckham, south London, one of the latest addition to JJ Abram’s new box office record breaking Star Wars film. This 23-year-old Nigerian actor has been shot from obscurity to superstardom with his role as Stormtrooper Finn in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

John Boyega is at the epicentre of the Star Wars storm. But he shows no signs of getting carried away. He was calm and collected as he had a brief chat with #GameChangers in a London Hotel. John displayed a maturity that is light years beyond his own. He is humble and gracious about landing the part as he recount the gruelling movie schedule; he also have a lot of  appreciation for his parent's upbringing style and the sacrifices they made to get him where he is today.

How did this happen for you?

It all started 4years ago when I met JJ Abram who expressed how much he loved my first film ‘Attack of the Block’ and he said ‘I love you in the movie, one day I will get you into something, we just have to think of what is right’, then 4 years later, the opportunity came through my agent Femi Oguns MBE of Identity Agency Group and I was released into a world of the biggest audition of my life. I was in the background just waiting for when the auditions will commence, I had my ears to the ground for that kind of stuff, then I got the call from Femi about the audition and that kick-started a seven month long auditioning, meetings and training process.

How did you react when you got the part?

Amazing! Manic! There was a lot to take in, knowing that they now trust me with the franchise. I was just relieved. I’d trained and auditioned for 7 months and it was an opportunity I really wanted. I’m very grateful.

What did they make you do?

To be honest, if I invested that much in something, I would want to know the characters in the movie are up to the task. It was a tough process but when you get a part in the film, you’ll appreciate the process is necessary because the actual filming was like, if I hadn’t gone through the seven months, I wouldn’t have been as ready as I was for the actual filming.

Can you tell us about your character, Finn?

Finn is a very interesting character, he started off as a Stormtrooper – as part of the first order under Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). He then decides that life is not for him so, escapes and then meet Rey (Daisy Ridley) and BB8 and they all go off on an amazing adventure together.

John Boyega

How was being a part of the new Star Wars cast feel?

It’s so interesting to have a generation of new characters who were like, literarily put together last year to interact with the older generation. it strikes a very interesting balance after seeing it. It’s so organic and it works. Really cool. I think Star Wars always has to be bigger and bigger and better every time and there’s a great cast on The Force Awakens. It’s ground-breaking.

Didn’t working with the 70’s cast freak you out?

Holding a lightsabre was a freak out, running around the men in falcons was definitely a freak out for me, I was freaking out every day in the intervals.

I had no shame on the Star Wars set and still do not, it was my first time of experiencing Star Wars like this and so for me, I geeked out bigtime, I brought merchandise to set for various cast members to sign, I took selfies with stars I grew up adoring in earlier Star Wars films and it felt nice.

What’s the relationship between Finn and Harrison Ford (Han Solo)?

In the film, Han Solo is like kind of a mentor but what’s more interesting is that Finn has no respect for Han solo which influenced most of their dialogue in the film but there is a genuine love in the banter, it feels like having banter with your guy. I gave him a few rude lines and he knows how to come back at me. And that is one thing I really enjoyed working with Harrison.

Finn and Han's relationship kind of mirrors mine and Harrison's. Basically we are best friends, he wouldn't say that(smile), but we are close. Finn doesn't have as much respect for Han's legacy as everybody else does and Han finds that a bit charming. They team up and go on a mission together. The banter is very choppy and the dialogue is pretty funny.

Did you get to keep any of the costumes?

I didn’t, I have been asked about that so many times. But if I was allowed, I would like to keep the brown leather jacket, the Stormtrooper helmet and obviously the lightsabre just to remind me of the hard work.

This isn’t your first gig, is it?

No it isn’t, in 2011, I was in a movie titled ‘attack the block’ – it’s also about an alien invasion but of a different kind.

Did you grow up wanting this?

Yes, I was raised to make decisions and take ownership of my own life, my father and mother taught me that and it was an automatic thing to me, it’s only now when I’m being questioned about it that I kind of think, well perhaps it’s not like an everyday thing, but I decided that I felt good in the realm of acting and arts, so I decided to just pursue it. My parents were fine about it, in fact my Dad has spent a lot on petrol, driving me to auditions and classes, and they’ve been a huge support.

What is your earliest memory?

As a boy? Just a lot of squealing. But my earliest vivid memory would be my Nigerian mother. She would wrap me on her back. I remember being on her back a lot. It felt like a ride, like I was riding a dinosaur; going everywhere and seeing everything.

Who’s the last person you phoned?

I even remember his name! Nathan Mohammed. My last Uber driver.

What’s the most expensive thing you’ve ever bought?

I must not lie to you… We get everything for free! People just send stuff to you. I didn’t even have to pay for the plane tickets.

What's the most prized item in your wardrobe?

My jackets. I love my jackets and good tailoring. I love the designs and the colour.

What were you doing at midnight last night?

I was at the Star Wars: The Force Awakens premier after party at Tate Britain! 

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

The first thing that pops into my head is something I can't share with others! The second one is from my dad. He always told me to keep a steady head and continue working.

For the whole seven months I was auditioning my life was just confusing, It was like they were dangling the opportunity in front of my face and then saying, 'no you don't have it yet.' I was always being called back and my last screen test I had with Chewbacca in full costume, which was fun. When JJ broke it to me that I had the part, my main feeling was one of relief and knowing I was going to sleep well that night. And I did.

John Boyega has nominated the Damilola Taylor Trust as one of the causes to share £1.35m from the charitable initiative Star Wars: Force for Change.

Apparently, he shares a close connection with Damilola Taylor and reports have it that himself and his sister Grace, were one of the last people to see Damilola Taylor alive before he was murdered on November 2000 in Peckham.

Read 710 times Last modified on Tuesday, 29 December 2015 11:28