John Boyega has hardly kept his opinions on his time as part of the Star Wars franchise to himself, blasting Disney and Lucasfilm in a famously incendiary interview where he called them out for marginalizing his character in The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker. A lot of people agreed with him, too, after The Force Awakens appeared to establish him as an integral part of the Sequel Trilogy, only for Finn to find himself left on the sidelines as the focus definitively pivoted to the relationship between Rey and Kylo Ren.
Of course, there are any number of reasons why an actor signs a multi-picture contract to board a major brand, whether it be the chance to elevate their career to the next level, expand their public profile by starring in a guaranteed box office hit, or simply the lucrative paychecks on offer.
The 28 year-old’s first project after his time in a galaxy far, far away drew to a close saw him head to television, though, for acclaimed filmmaker Steve McQueen’s anthology series Small Axe, and the 28 year-old admitted that he wanted to move onto something as far away from Star Wars as possible.
“Being in a big franchise, it’s kind of like luxury jail sometimes for an actor when you want to do something else. Because remember, in a franchise you’re working on one character for many years, which can starve your other muscles. And in wanting to be in something where I knew that I’d play a different type of role, a different type of man, and then knowing Steve through, we’re all a part of the same industry so I’d heard about Steve’s directing style, I was really really curious and excited to have the opportunity anyway to be a part of it.”
Obviously, Boyega also headlined Pacific Rim: Uprising and stole the entire movie with his charismatic performance, and on the surface it certainly appeared as though he was having much more fun piloting a robot to fight giant monsters than he was bringing Finn’s underdeveloped arc to a close in Episodes VIII and IX, but maybe that wasn’t the case.
The bigger the actor, the more freedom they tend to get in franchise roles, as we’ve seen with the likes of Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark and Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow in the past. However, Star Wars itself has always been the property’s main selling point as opposed to the talents that star in it, and John Boyega was just one small cog in a huge machine.