At the height of the Black Lives Matter protests that followed the death of George Floyd, John Boyega became a real-life hero when he delivered a forceful speech in London’s Hyde Park. “Black lives have always mattered — we have always meant something,” the Star Wars star said in early June. “We have always been important. We have always meant something. We have always succeeded regardless. And now is the time. I ain’t waiting.” Boyega went on to suggest that he might face personal and professional consequences for speaking up. “Look, I don’t know if I’m going to have a career after this, but f*** that.”
Fortunately, the film industry made it very clear, very quickly that Boyega wasn’t going anywhere, with everyone from Jordan Peele to his Star Wars family lending him their full support. And, sure enough, a month after his Hyde Park moment, the 28-year-old actor is already back in action. Boyega recently posted a picture from the make-up trailer of his latest project on Instagram with a note that read: “Back on set! Have a nice day everyone.” (The snapshot reveals him and the make-up artist wearing coronavirus-era appropriate PPE, including a mask and face shield.)
But those hoping that Boyega’s new feature was a solo Star Wars story starring his First Order trooper-turned-Resistance warrior Finn soon had their dreams dashed. In the comments section of his post, the actor made it clear that George Lucas’s far, far away galaxy was in his rearview after last year’s Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker wrapped up the sequel trilogy that began with 2015’s The Force Awakens and continued in 2017’s controversial The Last Jedi. Responding to a fan who hoped to see Finn wielding a green lightsaber one day, Boyega graciously wrote, “lol no thank you. I’ve moved on.”
Some took that “lol” to mean that Boyega was as dissatisfied with The Rise of Skywalker as many fans were. Directed by J.J. Abrams — who also helmed The Force Awakens — the movie earned $1 billion worldwide but fell short of the grosses earned by the previous installments, and the critical and audience reaction was also mixed. The actors, meanwhile, were under a close microscope during the film’s press tour, with Boyega even issuing an apology for comments he made to Variety about co-star Kelly Marie Tran’s decision to leave social media after experiencing online harassment. In a January Instagram post, Boyega created a cheeky montage featuring himself using Star Wars combat moves to slice-and-dice comments generated by toxic fans.
For his part, Boyega is insisting that his decision to move on from Star Wars isn’t due to any creative differences or frustrations with fandom. “Not into playing one role for too long. I have more to offer than that. That’s all,” he wrote in the comments of his current Instagram post. The conversation continued on Twitter as Boyega responded to the headlines generated by his Instagram post, as well as to suggestions from Twitter trolls that he should be “grateful” for everything Star Wars has brought him.
Isn’t that what people do when a role is done? Or .... it’s not that deep. https://t.co/3VabJQ1kdz— John Boyega (@JohnBoyega) July 20, 2020
I am grateful but yes you should close the door for a long time if anything. Key word is versalitilly. One role cannot fulfill that. Lol let me do my job and you lot just watch please. The lines are too blurred lol— John Boyega (@JohnBoyega) July 20, 2020
Others quickly chimed to shoot down any notion that Boyega was obligated to express any more gratitude than he already has.
Why is it when Harrison Ford and Robert Pattinson diss the media that made them successful everyone finds it funny but when John Boyega and Oscar Isaac do the same thing they should be “grateful for the opportunity”?— Jake ceo of Cal Kestis²¹² ✿ ᵇˡᵐ ᵃᶜᵃᵇ (@cal_kcstis) July 19, 2020
White people telling black people "we should be grateful" don't sit right with me.— Radical Urkel (@OptimistAsh) July 20, 2020
"You should be grateful for the opportunities given"— Chi-Chi (@knowyour_Chi) July 20, 2020
Nowhere does John express ungratefulness.... in fact if you check previous interviews/articles gratefulness for the opportunities he has been given is overflowing
It's too early on a Monday for this....
Why should he be grateful? He did his job well. Do you tell any of the White superhero fellows the should be grateful? You people want to condescend to Black people as though you think this is slavery America. Gtfoh.— FredsMother (@MotherFreds) July 20, 2020
I just know that the guy who played Indiana Jones should just be grateful for that role and should never try to play other characters.— Christopher Ankney (@ChristophAnkney) July 20, 2020
Besides, it’s not as if Boyega hasn’t already made a point of demonstrating his versatility. In between Star Wars episodes, he appeared in films like Detroit and Pacific Rim: Uprising, and lent his voice to a new animated adaptation of Watership Down. And coming up, he has roles in the crime drama Naked Singularity, opposite Bill Skarsgård; Jeremy Saulnier’s new thriller Rebel Ridge; and the British drama Borderland, alongside fellow Star Wars veteran Felicity Jones. In the words of another Star Wars legend: A big future, he has.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is currently streaming on Disney+
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