2011 has already seen its fair share of alien movies, but one in particular stands out from the pack: Joe Cornish's Attack The Block. The hugely entertaining, energetic, funny, and frightening action-adventure flick pits a South London teen gang against an invasion of savage alien monsters with glowing neon teeth. The movie's star, John Boyega, is magnetic as the gang's leader "Moses." With mostly stage experience, the British-Nigerian actor makes his theatrical debut in Attack The Block, displaying the on-screen poise of a far more experienced performer.
After a triumphant premiere at SXSW this past March, rave reviews have followed the film from across the pond into the United States. With a growing legion of Blockheads generating a cult following even before today's limited theatrical release, Attack The Block could very well be one of the summer's most unexpected breakout hits.
Boyega sat down with Complex to explain how Attack The Block made him feel like Will Smith, recount wild on-set experiences, open up about "bonding" with a female alien, and profess his love for Fred Flintstone's wifey.
Complex: For those who have yet to see the movie can you talk a little bit about Attack The Block, and how you came to be apart of it?
John Boyega: Attack The Block is an alien invasion film set in South London. It's about a group of kids who are some petty thugs, who have to find the hero in themselves, when they attack. It features Nick Frost, yours truly, Alex Esmail, a truly diverse cast. The picture is a homage to those ‘80s movies.
How I came to be a part of it was that I got a phone call from my agent. He told me about the plot and when I initially heard it I was a bit like, "Eh, really?!" I didn't get it at first, but it ended up being my first film. I got my start in North London, doing theater, stage appearances. Producer Nira Park (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz) saw me in a play and after that it was basically recall after recall. I found out face-to-face that I had got the part of "Moses" in the movie and it was like that scene in Pursuit of Happyness, when Will Smith got the job. I felt extremely blessed and happy.
What was the dynamic like between you and your four main co-stars?
We had loads of fun during the rehearsal process. Franz Drameh, who plays "Dennis" in the movie, was amazing to be around. He was the wildest out of the bunch. The dynamic was incredible. We got to bond and become friends. [Laughs.] It was so cold during filming and Drameh was stuck on Red Bulls. [Laughs.] We all were, but he was on it seriously. It was freezing out there. We had a bag that would heat us up, so between takes we had to go to the mini-bars, and get hot chocolate. We'd sing songs around the fire, and all that jazz.
If Franz was the wildest, then LJ [Leeon Jones] was too cool for school. That was so annoying to me [Laughs.]. He plays "Jerome" in the movie. He'd throw a can of Sprite five feet and hit the garbage bin spot-on. He would walk around wearing his cool glasses, saying that he's the first black Cyclops. Who says that?! He was the absolute coolest.
There's been a lot of positive reviews for your performance in Attack The Block. What can people expect from your next project, Junkhearts?
Junkhearts is a great story. It will find me in a different realm than how people see me in Attack the Block. You're not going to see "Moses" again. I like to invent a different person when approaching a project. I'm also going to be a guest lead in Law & Order: U.K.. It'll air on BBC America in the next couple of weeks. In addition to all of that, I recently signed with talent agency CAA. Hollywood has given me a great, warm hug.
Your co-star Nick Frost, whom you call "Uncle Frost," has made us laugh in films like Shaun Of The Dead and Hot Fuzz. Was he as funny on set?
Before we would shoot a scene, before the director would yell "action," Nick would come in and say, "Oh, acting," and make these snorting sounds. He would say some crazy things right before the cameras would start rolling. In my head, I'd be like, "Why, Nick?" But we'd all laugh because the guy truly is a riot. It was very surreal that a man whose movies I have, yet didn't know me, was sharing a scene with me. True inspiration, man.
How about the funniest thing someone did with the tiny female alien puppet before the cameras started to roll?
[Laughs.] The female alien on my back and I had a lot of time to, uh, bond… professionally. She was very interested in the kid. Did you see the way I carried her on my back, man? There were a lot of puppet jokes on set. It was basically her and I around one another for the whole day.
In the film, you're a hit with the ladies on the block, but if you could choose one sexy starlet to take into outerspace, who would it be and why?
[Laughs.] Hmm… I would say that I'd have to take Mr. Flintstone's wife, Wilma. She is a female star, you can say, right? She's authentic. I like my women very green, you know, eco-friendly. Wilma's good for the Earth. [Laughs.]