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John Boyega criticizes Disney over 'Star Wars,' says Black characters 'pushed to the side'

In an interview with GQ UK, the Star Wars actor also reflected on threats and trolling he received after he was cast in "Star Wars: The Force Awakens."
Image: Actor John Boyega speaks to the crowd during a Black Lives Matter protest in Hyde Park on June 3, 2020 in London, United Kingdom.
Actor John Boyega speaks to the crowd during a Black Lives Matter protest in Hyde Park on June 3, 2020 in London, United Kingdom.Dan Kitwood / Getty Images

Actor John Boyega criticized Disney in a new interview, saying Black and other nonwhite characters were "pushed to the side" in the Star Wars franchise.

“They gave all the nuance to Adam Driver, all the nuance to Daisy Ridley,” Boyega said of white co-stars in the recent sequel trilogy that began with "Star Wars: The Force Awakens." “Let’s be honest. Daisy knows this. Adam knows this. Everybody knows. I’m not exposing anything.”

In the the cover-story interview in the October issue of GQ UK, the 28-year-old British actor said his role of Finn, a stormtrooper who defects, was initially positioned as a main character only to be later “pushed to the side.”

“[W]hat 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,” Boyega said. “You knew what to do with these other people," but not "when it came to Kelly Marie Tran, when it came to John Boyega.

Attempts to reach Disney and Boyega for comment on Wednesday were not immediately successful.

Boyega tweeted on Wednesday in response to posts about his interview: “I said what I said. Love to you all seriously. Your support is amazing !”

In the GQ piece, Boyega, a British actor of Nigerian descent, also touched on an effort in 2015 to organize a boycott of "The Force Awakens," over a Black person's being cast as a central character.

The effort, which used the hashtag #BoycottStarWarsVII, accused the film of pushing a multicultural agenda and engaging in "white genocide," USA Today reported.

“I’m the only cast member who had their own unique experience of that franchise based on their race,” Boyega said. “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."

The boycott effort amounted to nothing when "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" premiered in December 2015 with one of the highest-grossing opening weekends of any film ever. It is now the highest grossing film with over $930 billion earned, according to IMDbPro.

In 2018, fellow "Star Wars" actor Kelly Marie Tran, who is of Asian descent, wiped her Instagram account after reportedly facing racist harassment after she appeared in the franchise.

Boyega's interview with GQ comes after wide publicity of his impromptu and emotional appearance at a protest against police brutality in London’s Hyde Park in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd

The actor told GQ that he mingled anonymously for hours during London’s protests in June, before agreeing to a request by organizers to address the crowd.

"Today is about innocent people who were halfway through their process," Boyega said in June. "We don't know what George Floyd could have achieved."

Later that day, the Star Wars Twitter account posted, "We stand with and support you, @JohnBoyega" and shared a link to Boyega's full speech.