One of the featured interviews in the upcoming collectors edition of Star Wars Insider, The Galaxy’s Greatest Heroes, features an interview with John Boyega discussing his favorite Star Wars film and how he got the role of Finn. CBR.com shares an exclusive extract…
In an exclusive excerpt from The Galaxy’s Greatest Heroes, John Boyega recalls how he earned the part of reformed stormtrooper Finn for 2015’s The Force Awakens, kicking off the Star Wars sequel trilogy. After undergoing months of rigorous auditions and screen tests, Boyega recounts how he met privately with filmmaker J.J. Abrams in London to learn he received the role.
FINN – A stormtrooper who goes against the orders of his superior, FN-2187 joins forces with Poe Dameron to stage a daring escape from the First Order. Played by charismatic actor and fan of Star Wars since childhood, John Boyega, the newly renamed Finn embarks on a journey into the heart of his former enemy.
John Boyega (Finn): I was born in 1992, so I grew up on the prequels, and then my dad told me that I should go back and watch the originals because that rounds up the whole Anakin and Luke Skywalker story. So I went back and watched the originals and thought they were amazing. Every actor captured our imaginations and it was definitely an artistic influence for actors, directors, and everybody in the entertainment field, from visual effects to everybody that makes the magic happen.
Return of the Jedi is my favorite film, because you find Luke Skywalker at a very vulnerable time. In the first film he was learning who he is and learning about this special world that’s out there that he never knew about. Return of the Jedi is a great mix of drama, comedy, and somewhat expands the universe in terms of the Ewoks and other creatures that you find in the movie. It’s my favorite because it’s the establishment of each character at a different point in their lives. You see the whole story from a different point of view. I always saw the first two films as from the point of view of R2-D2 and C-3PO. I only cared about these droids. These droids are just being exchanged, and passed around, and the story is told from their viewpoint. But, Return of the Jedi is fixated on Luke Skywalker’s story and he’s becoming the top Jedi on the streets right now and that was really cool to me.
Casting for Star Wars: The Force Awakens involved a long and involved process.
John Boyega: I got a call about the auditions for Star Wars and my agent told me that J.J. Abrams wanted to meet with me and put me on tape for the role. I didn’t know what part I was going up for and I hadn’t read the script, so I took a train into central London, met J.J., spoke about the role, and then did the scenes. It was two scenes; I practiced it a few times, and then we put it on tape. It was quite the experience because it was nerve-wracking knowing that it was Star Wars, but not knowing the specifics of the part. After that it was recall after recall, then a screen test with Chewbacca came, which was exciting. Then, I got the call to say that I had got the part, and that was after seven months of extreme auditioning!
From the get-go, they specified that it was a male leading role. Star Wars is an ensemble cast, so we have lots of leads that create the narrative, and I didn’t know that Finn was so central to the story. I only found that out halfway through the audition process when J.J. said, “You’re the guy. You know that, right?” I was like, “Ahh! Okay, it’s time to get the acting chops together and do something!”
Prior to getting the part, I had been at a premiere for another film I had done, and my mind was definitely more fixated on whether I’d receive the part or not. I remember being on the red carpet and it had leaked that I was up for the Star Wars part. So, there were various media outlets asking if I was up for Star Wars. I said, “I haven’t heard anything, but if J.J. Abrams wants me to be in Star Wars, that would be amazing.” The next day, I got an email from J.J. asking where I was. I told him I was at home and he asked if I could get to a little café in Mayfair, London. I hopped in a cab, drove down, and saw J.J. in the café by himself, drinking a cup of tea. We had a brief conversation and he asked me whether I was ready. He asked me if would be interested in working out and training, both as an actor and physically. He asked me if I realized how big the responsibility would be. I said, “Yeah, I’ll be fine. I’ll do anything.” Then, he told me I was the new star in Star Wars.
Read more of the exclusive extract here. Star Wars Insider: The Galaxy’s Greatest Heroes is available to pre-order now from all good bookstores and comic shops, as well as via Forbidden Planet, Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
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