In April, 2014, British actor John Boyega was cast as stormtrooper Finn, a lead character in Star Wars: The Force Awakens — changing his personal and professional life and guaranteeing megastar status forever, especially at any comic con.
Directed by J.J. Abrams, the mega-selling Episode VII in the Star Wars saga introduced a whole new cast of characters, while bringing back original stars Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, and Mark Hamill. The film and the 24-year-old Boyega’s performance received acclaim from audiences and critics alike.
Before attaining international recognition for work in the hotly received seventh film of this groundbreaking series, his other credits included 2013’s historical fiction feature, Half of a Yellow Sun, four episodes of the television series 24: Live Another Day and the drama, Imperial Dreams.
No stranger to sci-fi, Boyega established himself in his native United Kingdom for playing Moses in the 2011’s Attack the Block, which follows a young woman and gang of tough inner-city kids who defend their turf against an invasion of savage alien creatures, turning their South London apartment complex into a war-zone.
Born on March 17, 1992, the London native began acting at Theatre Peckham, a performing arts centre in for kids aged 9 to 14. At 16, he moved to South Thames College to study performing arts, and joined the Identity School of Acting in Hackney. Though he enrolled at Greenwich University, his career took off and left to concentrate on acting.
In this latest Star Wars edition, his character joins up with Rey (Daisy Ridley), a scavenger from the planet Jakku, who has found a BB-8 droid that knows the whereabouts of the long lost Luke Skywalker.
They enlist the help of legendary smugglers/freedom fighters Han Solo (Ford) and Chewbacca to transport it to General Leia Organa of the Resistance before it falls into the hands of Kylo Ren and the First Order. 30 years ago, the Empire had been defeated but now this new threat has risen from its ashes. The series continues in Star Wars – Episode VIII due out in 2017.
Preparing for the First Audition:
I was in LA filming an indie film when they were doing a lot of auditions and every single actor was auditioning for the part. It’s funny, I remember my boy came into my apartment like, “Yo, man, I got an audition!” I was like, “For what?” “For Star Wars!”
I said, “I’ll help you, I’ll put you up on tape.” And while he was reading, something went in me, “Where’s my audition?”
I just remember waiting a long time, hearing that all these different people were going up for the part and my agent — let’s give him a round of applause, please — he’s the guy that made everything happen. He called and was like, “You all right, mate?” and I go, “Yeah, I’m all right.” He goes, “Guess what?” I go, “What?” “Got an audition for Star Wars.” “Aaaaaaah! [pause] All right, when, where, how?”
I went into my first audition just looking to be as charming as possible, to have fun. It was tough, but thankfully there’s YouTube. There’s a video on YouTube — and you should all watch it — it’s of Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill’s original audition. Before my last audition, my second to last audition wasn’t as grounding as I wanted it to be and I needed some inspiration so I watched Harrison’s audition.
I went in there like, “You know what, if I don’t get it, I get it, I’m just going to have fun, and I had an amazing time.” And booking it felt ridiculous. J.J. emailed me and was like, “Where are you?” And I was like, “Uh, at an art gallery.” I wasn’t really at an art gallery, but I just wanted to sound busy. I want to be like, “No, no, I got a life, I’m not just waiting to see if I got the part for Star Wars, I’m not waiting!” He said, “Come to Mayfair.”