You guys – John Boyega! While the name doesn’t hold the massive ‘celebrity’ that Harrison Ford does <yet>, I have a feeling that’s all about to change. Having not seen the movie yet, I can’t speak to what we’ll see from him in the film. But, can this guy work a room! He’s charismatic and hilarious and gracious and well-spoken…and he does voices, like awesome impersonations of different people! This interview was an absolute BLAST from beginning to end! So much laughter and SO much fun! I can’t wait to see him on screen and to watch his career take off! After a few quips on his end about wearing a backpack for no reason, we started asking questions like, “Being a lifelong Star Wars fan, how does it feel to be a part of a franchise that sort of stands for generations?”
It feels really cool and quite weird at the same time, because I remember what it was like to grow up being a fan. You don’t think about all of those specifics when you’re auditioning because it’s all about booking the part. And then also, you don’t think about that while you’re filming, because it’s about the reality of the scenes. The characters don’t know that they’re in a Star Wars movie that will change people’s lives – they’re in their reality. I remember being with my driver in the UK when we’re going to the set, and he was just like, ‘You know what, mate? When you die, you’re not going to be really dead because you’re going to be everywhere anyway.’ And I just thought, oh yeah, that’s an interesting thought. And so it’s really quite surprising to be a part of that
When you first put on the Storm Trooper outfit and saw yourself in the mirror, what was your reaction?
I did like the way my glutes looked. [cue lots of laughter] It was a good experience because something like that makes it so real that you’re involved in this universe. I mean, when you put on the costume, it’s the final kind of step of becoming a character. You put on the costume and you see yourself as a character that isn’t you, and so that is something that was quite profound.
Can you speak to the relationship between Finn and Poe?
“When Finn escapes the First Order, he crosses paths with various characters and Poe is one of them. They definitely have a brother type relationship. Finn finds a friend in Poe and Poe represents what Finn wants to be. Poe is definitive in his position of who he fights for, for what side he’s on, and Finn is more in limbo.
Finn is kind of like, ‘okay, I don’t want to fight with the Stormtroopers; I don’t wanna fight the resistance; I kind of want to get away, but I have to’ and Poe gives him a lot of clarity on who he is as a person.
What do you think is the most inspiring thing about your character?
I think what’s inspiring about Finn is how complex he is. He’s a Stormtrooper who has never really experienced individuality. I think that we’ve always known Stormtroopers to just be one unit; and we’ve never, ever had a Stormtrooper take off his helmet for us to see who he really is. All you’ve ever had is the lead characters in disguise. I find that already iconic to me as a fan to be able to actually talk to one of those.
Plus I always felt sorry for those Stormtroopers, man. It’s like they send them out just to be shot and I’ve always wanted to say, ‘Man, you know what? There must be a different career for you, mate.’ Finn is the first Stormtrooper to actually go, ‘you know what? I need a new job’. So it’s, it’s really cool to experience a Stormtrooper in that sense.
What kind of training was involved for the lightsabers?
Hand-to-hand combat so, specifically me and Adam [Driver as Kylo Ren] had to do the choreograph scenes together. And Finn has a lot of shooting, running, especially with me and Rey. Me and Daisy had to get our cardiovascular skills up, and that was treacherous. But it was fun because now filming the scenes, you realize why the training was so intense. The scenes are literally, you know, practical effects on the real locations, so there’s no time to slack.
(His answer to this question was hilarious – some of it gets lost in just text. But suffice it to say that we was painting a whole picture of what it was like on set. And, when he quotes J.J. – he actually impersonated J.J.’s voice. It was so funny!)
That was me. That was ALL me. I was fantastic. I mean, with explosions like that, there are health and safety regulations and all those things. But while we were on set, I didn’t think I expected them to be that big. I just remember J.J. saying, ‘okay, John, we’re going to do this scene and, just run. Do the dialogue. Have fun. Great. All right. Cameras! Action!” And I’m running, and I look at Daisy, and see that everyone’s backing up. J.J.’s going further and further away. They put a plastic cloak over the camera; people putting goggles on and hats. I looked at Daisy like, ‘why, how come we…’ and they called action. And if you watch the scene, I’m actually legit freaking out. I’m too young to die like this! But it was definitely fun, those scenes.
I think I’m quite funny, to be honest with you.
But it was hard to channel Finn. For seven months I was auditioning for the part, and one of the reasons why I feel it was so long is because it’s really hard to channel the character without enough content. We weren’t allowed a script. We couldn’t take a script home. So I’m having to work with J.J. as if we’re playing one of those mime games, and you have to guess what he’s saying.
I’m like, okay, Finn is brave, and J.J.’s having to explain without giving away the whole story. So it has been a lot of me trying to find the extreme versions of myself along with obviously, a great script and making a fictional character.
I did. But I was more of a Han dude. I wasn’t really into Luke like that. It’s not because he wasn’t a good character. It’s just because I like the characters that represent human beings in these kind of projects. In sci-fi, if any of us were in the Star Wars universe, we wouldn’t be Luke. We wouldn’t be trying to, you know, fight against- naw, hell, naw. I’m trying to live, I’m trying to be Han. I’m trying to make money; I’m trying to survive.
And the only reason why I would be brave is to save my own life, alright? I’m not trying to do any of that stuff, and so those are the characters I really relate to, the Hans. I would, you know, do the whole blaster thing.
In my opinion, I just think it’s the continuous dialog between fans. Fans have the ability to make a whole press conference on probably two minutes worth of footage, like, who shot first? That was a few seconds. There’s a whole debate about that, and that keeps fans engaged even when the movies aren’t there. There’s only been six films, but if you look at the fandom, it reflects as if there’s been twenty.
I think it’s because there are different ways in which you can experience Star Wars. You don’t necessarily have to watch the films. You can just have the merchandise and just know it from there. So there’s several ways that you can be a Star Wars fan, and I think that’s different than any other property.
Throughout the interview, we got a sense on how important his family is to him. In fact, he mentioned daily Facetime calls. And, he says that his ability to do voices like he does comes from his dad – a Pentecostal Minister. While his dad didn’t really know anything about Star Wars when John got the role, that has definitely been rectified.
You could get also a sense throughout the whole interview on what a fanboy of the franchise John is and his completely genuine mindblowing excitement about being a part of this new Star Wars story!
After the interview was done, he was SO great about interacting with everyone – commenting on Amiryah’s awesome hair, pointing out other people’s fun Star Wars gear. Then as we were getting arranged for photos he spotted my lightsaber dress. He said something straight to me like, “Love it” and then put his arm around me for photos!! Hahah! So THAT was a fun moment!!So fun in fact that I had to create our own little “poster pic” of sorts. Hahaha! My new BFF! 😉
Be sure to check out all our #StarWarsEvent Coverage:
- Star Wars Press Event Photos
- Harrison Ford [Han Solo] Interview
- Daisy Ridley [Rey] Interview
- John Boyega [Finn] Interview
- Lupita Nyong’o [Maz Kanata] and Oscar Isaac [Poe] Interview
- Kathleen Kennedy [Producer & Lucasfilm President] Interview
- J.J. Abrams [Co-writer & Director] Interview
Disclaimer: I was invited and hosted by Disney and LucasFilm to cover the #StarWarsEvent as part of an all-expenses paid press trip. As always, all opinions and love of Star Wars are entirely my own. Photos used in the post are courtesy of Disney and MomStart.com.