For the likes of Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, and the late Carrie Fisher, their careers and level of fame took off into another stratosphere following their star-making turns in Star Wars. For someone like John Boyega, his tenure serves as a reminder of what could've been.
The main theatrical poster for 2015's Star Wars: The Force Awakens showed Boyega’s character Finn wielding a lightsaber, leading fans to assume that Finn played a pivotal role in the next three films. His role as a Stormtrooper who wanted to help Poe Dameron and rebel against the First Order felt like a refreshing and new take. But with each new film, Finn slowly started fading to the back, making way for romance between Rey and Kylo Ren, which Boyega has publicly mocked.
Boyega criticized Disney in an interview with British GQ in September for initially building up his character to be something significant early on, only to cast him aside in the final film, Rise of Skywalker. "You get yourself involved in projects and you're not necessarily going to like everything," he said. "[But] what 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. I'll say it straight up."
His critique of Disney didn't fall on deaf ears because he revealed to The Hollywood Reporter that an executive from the company reached out to him to have "a very honest, a very transparent conversation" seemingly about his role and the general handling of Black and POC characters in the Star Wars universe. "It was a very honest, a very transparent conversation," he said. "There was a lot of explaining on their end in terms of the way they saw things. They gave me a chance also to explain what my experience was like."
Who knows what the future holds for Boyega and Disney, but the actor is optimistic that his honest criticism and their subsequent discussion can pave the way for progress for other people of color in the film industry. "I'd hope that me being so open with my career, at this stage, would help the next man, the guy that wants to be the assistant DOP, the guy that wants to be a producer," he said. "I hope that the conversation is not such a taboo or elephant in the room now, because someone just came and said it."