Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker Actor John Boyega Defends J.J. Abrams

The final installment in Lucasfilm's Skywalker Saga, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, ended up leaving both Star Wars fans and critics with some decidedly mixed feelings. Some of those mixed feelings came in the form of backlash against director J.J. Abrams with fans taking issue with, depending on the point of view, leaning too hard into fan service or "undoing" much of Rian Johnson's Star Wars: The Last Jedi among other things. Now, though, actor John Boyega is speaking out and defending the director.

In an interview with British GQ, Boyega opened up about his experience as part of the Star Wars franchise and one of the things that came up was Boyega's defense of Abrams, noting that the fans need to stop criticizing Abrams.

"Everybody needs to leave my boy alone," Boyega said. "He wasn't even supposed to come back and try to save your sh*t."

Abrams has himself addressed the criticisms of the film previously, noting earlier this year that his goal was to "do the best you can with everything you have".

"The truth is that these are things that are meant to entertain people, to make them feel something and hopefully make them feel good," said Abrams explained. "Obviously, it doesn’t always work. It’s hard when it doesn’t, and when it doesn’t, you have to understand it, you have to acknowledge it, you have to examine it."

As for Boyega, he also reflected on the racism he experienced during his time as part of the Star Wars franchise, specifically noting a stylist "cringing at certain clothes I wanted to go for" and a hairdresser who didn't have the experience of working with Black hair but "still had the guts to pretend". Boyega noted that he went along with it, but it eventually took a toll.

"During the press of [The Force Awakens] I went along with it," Boyega said. "And obviously at the time I was very genuinely happy to be a part of it. But my dad always tells me one thing: 'Don't overpay with respect.' You can pay respect, but sometimes you'll be overpaying and selling yourself short."

He also noted his frustrations with how the franchise handled the journey of his character, Finn.

“It’s so difficult to maneuver,” Boyega shared with the outlet. “You get yourself involved in projects and you’re not necessarily going to like everything. [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.”

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