John Boyega, back right, is gearing up to say goodbye to Star Wars with the release of The Rise Of Skywalker.
John Boyega, back right, is gearing up to say goodbye to Star Wars with the release of The Rise Of Skywalker.

How Boyega redeemed himself after losing Star Wars script

Like millions of Star Warsfans around the world, John Boyega had absolutely no idea where the story was headed after the release of The Last Jedi two years ago.

Six years ago, director JJ Abrams cast the rising UK actor as Finn, a stormtrooper turned resistance fighter in The Force Awakens - one of the three new core characters in a new Star Wars trilogy, alongside Daisy Ridley's fledging Jedi Rey and Oscar Isaacs' hot-headed fly-boy Poe.

But despite being so central to the third and final trilogy of the Skywalker saga that began 42 years ago with the release of George Lucas' game-changing space opera Star Wars, Boyega was as clueless as the rest of us as to what was going to happen in the finale,The Rise Of Skywalker, which releases around the world next week.

"It took six years to get here and I couldn't have imagined this point at the beginning of the run," says Boyega of his extraordinary, life-changing journey so far.

 

Boyega says he lost his script moving house, causing an online incident. Picture: Getty
Boyega says he lost his script moving house, causing an online incident. Picture: Getty

"It feels weird to be here - and the reality that the film being released is the end is very cool and a bit surreal."

Complicating matters for Boyega was the fact that The Rise Of Skywalker has had something of a troubled birth.

It was originally meant to be written and directed by Colin Trevorrow, of Jurassic World fame, until he left the project due to "creative differences" (translation, he was fired) a year before the release of Rian Johnson's second chapter, The Last Jedi.

To throw things further into chaos, Carrie Fisher, whose much loved General Leia was to have a key role in the final film, died of a heart attack in December of 2016.

Johnson's second film had taken the story in new, unexpected and divisive directions which, in truth, hadn't given Boyega's character much to do as he gallivanted around the galaxy in search of a hacker who turned out to be entirely peripheral to the plot.

John Boyega has no idea what would happen to his character Finn in The Rise Of Skywalker.
John Boyega has no idea what would happen to his character Finn in The Rise Of Skywalker.

"I was very curious but at the time my impression was that another director would come in and he would have his take on it and his view on how things would go," says Boyega of what that confusion would mean for him in The Rise Of Skywalker.

"It was in interesting prospect to know that somebody else was collaborating and obviously expanding the ideas. So I just kept an open mind to be honest."

So when news broke that Abrams - widely regarded as a safe pair of hands - would return to finish the trilogy he started, and bring back more of the stars from the original trilogy, Billy Dee Williams' Lando Calrissian and Ian McDiarmid's evil incarnate Emperor Palpatine among them, fanboys and girls everywhere breathed a sigh of relief.

Boyega was among them.

"I was really happy about that," he says.

"Because he established the history of these characters and to see that fulfilled in the way that he would want it to go is something that I was excited about.

"I liked the fact that they were bringing Billy Dee Williams back, which was something I always thought should happen. I was excited about being together with the rest of the cast - the thing that was most exciting was being with Poe and Rey."

Boyega was particularly happy to spend more time with Ridley and Isaac, with whom he says he now has a bond that will last for life.

Filming took the trio to Wadi Rum, in the Jordanian desert, which has also featured in films from Lawrence Of Arabia to The Martian and the next year's sci-fi epic, Dune.

John Boyega says he had a blast filming The Rise Of Skywalker with Oscar Isaac (right) in the Jordanian desert at Wadi Rum.
John Boyega says he had a blast filming The Rise Of Skywalker with Oscar Isaac (right) in the Jordanian desert at Wadi Rum.

"It was fantastic," Boyega says of the shoot.

"That was why we were laughing so much - we had such a good time. We travelled out to Jordan and spent a lot of time with each other out there. It was a really cool time for all of us."

As is customary with all things Star Wars, story details of The Rise Of Skywalker are locked down tighter than the Death Star itself, but the action is said to take place a year after the end of The Last Jedi, with the remnants of the Resistance trying to rebuild to once again face off with the villainous First Order.

Boyega is predictably coy about Finn's role in bringing the Skywalker saga to a definitive end, but says that more of the character's past will be revealed and that he acts as a peacemaker between the feistier Rey and Poe.

"Rey and Poe naturally have an argumentative spark that happens between the both of them," Boyega says.

"And Finn is usually in the middle because he has love for both of them and has a very strong position in both of those people's lives. So he's normally in the middle trying to get both of them to calm down and see reason.

"We are going to learn more about Finn's history and where he came from and what helped his choice to leave the First Order. And just that arc itself, learning his history you also learn about his new identity.

"Finn has always been someone in the movies who has struggled to stay with one team. And now he has a position in the fight that he truly believes in and you will come to realise in this movie that he comes to believe in it more than others, especially at a time of turmoil. So he has come full circle."

Boyega made Star Wars headlines last month for all the wrong reasons when he fessed up about being the actor who lost a script that ended up on eBay.

Miraculously, an eagle-eyed Disney employee spotted the fact that it was legitimate and bought it for a paltry sum before the closely-guarded plot ended up all over the internet. Director Abrams was less than impressed, but Boyega, who was practically living out of a suitcase at the time, says he didn't lose any sleep over the incident but that it was a timely reminder of the enormity of the project.

"If I am being honest, no," he says with a laugh.

"At the time I was moving house and I had so much going on, so when the script thing came about, I was like 'well, as long as Disney feel like they have it under control and I can give them any information that they need, then that's as far as I can worry about it'. But it does remind you of how big it is and how much people have to get put to work when some of those scenarios happen."

So just how much trouble did he get in for jeopardising the secrets of a multibillion-dollar industry?

John Boyega says he will be friends for life with the other core members of the Star Wars cast, including Daisy Ridley, who plays Rey. Picture: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney
John Boyega says he will be friends for life with the other core members of the Star Wars cast, including Daisy Ridley, who plays Rey. Picture: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney

"No trouble," he says.

"There's no repercussions for that. It is what it is when you are in this kind of process. Once they realise that I did genuinely lose it out of an apartment I was moving from and there was knowledge about the accommodation and how much I was moving at the time, so it was fine to be honest."

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After the punishing schedule of what Boyega calls "Star Wars season", which will take him around the world talking it up for the final time, one might think the 27-year-old might be ready for a bit of downtime.

But the hardworking Boyega, who managed to squeeze in the acclaimed drama Detroit and the not-so-acclaimed, Sydney shot Pacific Rim: Uprising, between his Star Wars commitments is making the most of the profile the pop culture phenomenon has afforded him.

"I just literally wrapped up on Steve Macqueen's Small Axe based on the first generation of Afro-Caribbeans in the UK," he says.

"And in February I go on to They Cloned Tyrone, which is a sci-fi I am doing with Netflix, and then I am doing a movie called Rebel Ridge with Kevin Costner after that. And then maybe after that I get some solid rest."

Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker opens on December 19



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