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9 minute read

INTERVIEW

JOHN BOYEGA “I’m going to miss the Star Wars family.” John Boyega talks about the sci-fi saga’s final chapter

STAR WARS: THE RISE of Skywalker’ marks the last film in the new ‘Star Wars’ sequel trilogy and the final episode in the nine-part ‘Skywalker’ saga.

‘The Rise of Skywalker’ sees the surviving Resistance face the First Order once more as Rey, Finn and Poe Dameron’s journey continues. With the power and knowledge of generations behind them, the final battle commences.

So what can you tell us about this final ‘Star Wars’ movie? JB: Ah man you’re talking to the person that has struggled over the years with all this secrets and stuff. But it’s important to me that no-one knows anything about this one because the shock value is just so important.

How does it feel being a part of the end of the franchise? JB: Yeah, I don’t know man, I just can’t believe it. I was at my house the other day with my sister and I was saying to her, ‘Do you have that fear that we’re going to go to bed this night with all this amazing stuff that’s happened and we really appreciate it and we’re going to wake up and we’re going to be in Camberwell.’ [laughs] And she’s like, ‘Yeah’. It kind of feels so surreal to be a part of something that just goes back generations. 1977, I don’t even think I was a thought in my dad’s head. So to come and be a part of it is just mad to me. It’s crazy.

There must be some special high points and low points over the course of the three films you have made? JB: Absolutely yeah. High points are definitely moments of laughter on set where I’m either with Daisy [Ridley] or I’m with Oscar [Isaac] and we’re just talking and we talk about everything. So we have great conversations and we’re laughing and it’s just a good day, we’re getting through our shots well. Just everything is flowing. A bad day is when all of that isn’t happening. Sometimes I get hungry and I get in a mood, they are like, ‘Ah John’s in a mood, he’s hungry.’ [laughs] Little things like that. And there are days where it’s kind of long, it’s tough, there’s a shot that we really want to get and physically it’s demanding and we have to do it 26 times. Those days are tough. And days where you miss your family. It’s six or seven months of your year, consistent filming, sometimes I just miss my mum and I’m on FaceTime saying, ‘Mum I miss you so much.’

Do you tell your mum any plot secrets? JB: Oh she doesn’t care about that. I don’t think they even understand what’s going on in the films. They just want to see their little boy running around.

You obviously can’t say very much about the movie but is it very different from the previous one? ‘The Last Jedi’ had pretty good reviews but… JB: It split the fans a bit. Yeah.

And now that director J.J. Abrams is back? JB: Yeah it’s good but I also feel like watch this movie then you will understand why there was such a transition with ‘8’. Then it’s about understanding that sometimes life happens and I think that life just happened to these characters in ‘8’, they were split apart, there was a lot of suffering, the lowest hope levels that I’ve ever seen in any ‘Star Wars’ movie like where you really feel like, ‘Wait, are they going to lose?’ But I think that’s good because ‘9’ now wraps it up in a way that makes sense.

Any type of online bullying – you’re weak, man, you’re weak

You were very vocal when Daisy was getting attacked by fans on social media. How do you look at the situation now? JB: The same way. Same thing.

Do people have the right to say what they think? JB: You have the right to say what you want but as fans you need to understand and share the love. Any type of online bullying – you’re weak, man, you’re weak.

You are a passionate fan of ‘Star Wars’ yourself. Were you tempted to show up on set when people like Billy Dee Williams were doing scenes for episode 9? JB: Was I tempted? Oh I was set. I was on set for big moments. I always make that a point to come on.

Especially Billy Dee? JB: Ah what? I was there the whole entire time. I was there when he was in the make-up trailer, putting the Billy Dee hair on. It was like, ‘Get him right, get my boy right.’ It’s cool to see.

Of the original characters you met, which made you the most emotional? JB: I wasn’t emotional. My process with meeting people is that I would just would love the opportunity to chill like we’re normal. That in itself makes a memory. There’s a difference between like, ‘I met Will Smith at the premiere for a movie’ and ‘I met Will Smith at my house and he told me he wanted a chicken

drumstick and some rice and we had dinner.’ I prefer that path.

Which you did with Harrison Ford? JB: Hell yeah I did! I asked him to dinner straight up and he was just like, ‘Fine’. But he wanted like real good food, like solid spicy seasoned food. I was like, ‘I know where to take you man.’ And by the time we were done, he was on the left-hand side, I was on the right, which had more leg space and he was sleeping it off and was like, ‘Let’s swap places, I need the leg room.’ So both of us climbed over each other and Harrison gets to the other seat and he conks out, like the food was real good. That’s African food. Once you eat it and you sleep good – that’s when you know. He was gone. He was cool.

What do you think it is about ‘Star Wars’ that sets them apart from any other space sci-fi movies? JB: I definitely think the time helped it, you know, 1977 was a

different time to introduce the world to that. You’re the first that comes in with this like sci-fi epic that is just so profound to people and makes people feel good. There’s a nostalgia with memories, childhood memories, family events, funerals. ‘Star Wars’ is like a part of the DNA of some people’s lives and I guess that even if you’re not into ‘Star Wars’, to see other people so passionate about it, you can just enjoy it a little bit and be happy that they’re happy. It’s just spanned generations. Everybody likes a good versus evil story that just keeps on going. I guess it’s just a part of our nature as human beings in a world where we don’t really have real heroes or resistance like that, you can watch a world in which they do and it’s kind of cool.

Do you think there is an intergalctic fashion design? JB: Yeah there is definitely. Boots are involved, the straps by the trousers and the pants – they’re never flexible. I went Photo: Jeff Bukowski / Shutterstock.com

Everybody likes a good versus evil story that just keeps on going

through like eight. There’d be explosions in the background and I’d be like, ‘J.J.!’ And he’s like, ‘Jesus John Boyega, let’s get John another pair of navy pants.’

The jacket is cool as well? JB: Yeah, yeah, the jacket is cool.

How have you changed as a person over the course of making these films? JB: I think I’ve matured. I was definitely way more immature those years ago. But I don’t think that had anything to do with the film, it’s just because I was 22. But yeah, it’s just the same transition and obviously it’s the first time I’ve been 22-27 so, for me, I know it’s not a big deal, but from my perspective, it’s just a lot

of growth. Habits also, personality traits, change – you just find yourself growing older.

Can you give some examples of personality changes? JB: Yeah like certain times, definitely listening to the family more, because one thing this does is it puts you in a position where you sometimes have to lead people and guide people and sometimes you have to be a good example. Proactive support for friends is something that I’ve really learned about.

Is it difficult to do that though when you’re in the public eye? Do you still have the same friends, for instance, you had when you started doing these movies? JB: I mean, what do people think happens when you get famous and wealthy? Do you think you just go through your phone and go, ‘Guys, I’m gone.’ [laughs] ‘You’re not my friend no more. I’m with Will Smith now!’ [laughs] Yeah, no I understand what you’re saying.

Does it worry you that a lot of actors from the original ‘Star Wars’ Movies found it hard to escape their characters? JB:I understand that fear. I just think now is quite a different time and ‘Star Wars’, although it’s the biggest thing that I’m known for it’s not the only thing I’m known for, and I’m very lucky for that.

Will you miss it? JB:Yeah of course, the people, the people I’m going to miss. The process, I feel like that’s always going to be continuous. I don’t really differentiate between movies, I feel it’s the same rehearsals, filming, wrap – that process is still going to be there but the specific people. I’m not going to be able to just like chill with Daisy, whose known me since I was auditioning. Now I’m going to have to be like on a super professional set. The actors will be serious [laughs].

So will you and Daisy have a life-long friendship? JB:Yeah definitely. I had a housewarming party the other day, because I just got my house in London. And I looked around and saw the people that were there just dancing and was like, ‘That is so funny to me’ that we just like met on set and now we are life-long friends in real life. It’s a nice feeling to have.

Keep up to date with everything John is up to by following him on Twitter and Instagram: @JohnBoyega MORE JOHN BOYEGA

Did you cry on set on the last day? JB:Oh yeah. I was finished. It was a struggle for the actors as well as for the characters. ●