The British actor played Finn in the latest Star Wars trilogy, which came to an end last year with the release of the divisive film The Rise Of Skywalker.
In a new interview with GQ magazine, in which John reflected on his career so far as well as looking to the future, he said the franchise’s white characters were given more “nuance” than his own.
“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,” he said. “It’s not good. I’ll say it straight up.”
He also noted that the same was true for other people of colour among the cast, including Kelly Marie Tran and Oscar Isaac, continuing: “Like, you guys knew what to do with Daisy Ridley, you knew what to do with Adam Driver.
“You knew what to do with these other people, but when it came to Kelly Marie Tran, when it came to John Boyega, you know fuck all. So what do you want me to say? What they want you to say is, ‘I enjoyed being a part of it. It was a great experience...’ Nah, nah, nah. I’ll take that deal when it’s a great experience.
“They gave all the nuance to Adam Driver, all the nuance to Daisy Ridley. Let’s be honest. Daisy knows this. Adam knows this. Everybody knows. I’m not exposing anything.”
John also spoke about the racism he faced from certain sections of the Star Wars fandom, revealing it affected him more than he let on at the time.
He recalled: “I’m the only cast member who had their own unique experience of that franchise based on their race. Let’s just leave it like that.
“It makes you angry with a process like that. It makes you much more militant; it changes you. Because you realise, ‘I got given this opportunity but I’m in an industry that wasn’t even ready for me.’ Nobody else in the cast had people saying they were going to boycott the movie because [they were in it].
“Nobody else had the uproar and death threats sent to their Instagram DMs and social media, saying, ‘Black this and Black that and you shouldn’t be a Stormtrooper.’ Nobody else had that experience. But yet people are surprised that I’m this way. That’s my frustration.”
As extracts from the interview began circulating on social media, John tweeted: “These conversations and me sharing isn’t about a witch hunt. It’s about clarity to an anger that can be seen as selfish, disruptive and self indulgent. Obviously in hopes of better change.
“Bruh. In short. I said what I said. Love to you all seriously. Your support is amazing.”
He told the crowds gathered in Hyde Park: “Every Black person in here remembered when another person reminded you that you were Black.
“All those protesters on the other side, protesting against what we want to do, protesting against what we want to try and achieve – [...] I need you to understand how painful this shit is.
“I need you to understand how painful it is to be reminded every day that your race means nothing, and that isn’t the case.”
John added: “I’m speaking to you from my heart. Look, I don’t know if I’m going to have a career after this, but fuck that.
“Today is about innocent people who were halfway through their process, we don’t know what George Floyd could have achieved, we don’t know what Sandra Bland could have achieved, but today we’re going to make sure that won’t be an alien thought to our young ones.”
The most recent Star Wars film, The Rise Of Skywalker, was previously called out due to the reduced role given to cast member Kelly Marie Tran, who joined the series in The Last Jedi.
Chris Terrio, who co-wrote The Rise Of Skywalker with director J.J. Abrams, addressed this shortly after the film’s release, insisting: “J.J. and I adore Kelly Marie Tran. One of the reasons that Rose [Kelly’s character] has a few less scenes than we would like her to have has to do with the difficulty of using Carrie [Fisher]’s footage in the way we wanted to.”
“As the process evolved, a few scenes we’d written with Rose and Leia turned out to not meet the standard of photorealism that we’d hoped for,” he added. “Those scenes unfortunately fell out of the film.
“The last thing we were doing was deliberately trying to sideline Rose. We adore the character, and we adore Kelly – so much so that we anchored her with our favourite person in this galaxy, General Leia.”
Read John Boyega’s interview in full in the new issue of GQ magazine.