“That was seven long months of training, of reading scripts that I wasn’t allowed to bring home, to create this character from scratch. So that for me was the emphasis.” – John Boyega
While Star Wars: The Force Awakens is made up of an ensemble cast — including old favorites from the original trilogy like Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill — it’s clear that John Boyega’s Finn is one of the signature characters of the new movie. In an interview with CNET, Boyega speaks about being the lead of a new Star Wars movie and what was the secret to his audition process.
Boyega admits that while he has thought about being the “face” of the new Star Wars film as a black actor (Boyega’s casting was a minor controversy on social media that somehow became a much bigger news story than it really needed to be since it wasn’t an issue for a vast majority of fans), it wasn’t something that struck him immediately when auditioning. He says, “You’re a working actor, and they tell you you’ve got an audition for a movie, diversity isn’t the first thing you think about. The first thing you think about is booking the part and doing the best you can. That was seven long months of training, of reading scripts that I wasn’t allowed to bring home, to create this character from scratch. So that for me was the emphasis.“
The audition process itself wasn’t easy because Boyega realized he needed to tap into the type of energy that made the original Star Wars trilogy so great. He explains, “Charisma is a big thing about Finn that I had to tap into. Finn has an inner confidence that is really, really mine. For the first few auditions that I did for Star Wars, I had to acquire a dramatic approach because of the content on the page. But then after a while I thought to myself, “Wait, this is Star Wars. Star Wars is different from any other project. Star Wars has its own culture. It has its own energy.”
To do that, Boyega looked back at the auditions of the original cast from the first Star Wars movie. He reveals, “I said, ‘You know what? I’m going to go to YouTube, and I’m going to watch Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford’s audition for the original Star Wars movie.’ And I watched their audition, and there was this casual approach to danger and to being a hero that I drew some inspiration from. If you see Harrison in his audition and Mark, there’s this, ‘The ship’s about to blow up, but, woo hoo! Switch to light speed!’ I love that. No other movie does that. In another movie they’d be crying and calling their parents, but in Star Wars it’s like, ‘woo!’ It’s all fun. So I’m just like, ‘I’m going to go in and have a whale of a time.'”