John boyega on pacific rim and his big budget ambition metro newspaper uk chicken giblet gravy recipe

YOU have to admire john boyega’s ambition. The british actor who found fame as finn in the new star wars movies has not frittered away opportunity. Last year he starred in acclaimed race relations drama detroit and made his west end debut in woyzeck.

Now he’s back starring in and co-producing pacific rim: uprising, the sequel to 2013’s monsters versus robots blockbuster. For an actor who’s never produced before, it’s a massive undertaking. Did he not think about starting on something smaller?

‘I did think of that in the early stages, as I was starting to learn how I would be a part of the process,’ he says, tucking into a bowl of spicy chicken wings when we meet in london’s corinthia hotel. ‘but one thing I realised was… wait a second, there’s no rules. This isn’t the NHS! We’re not dealing with people’s lives! We can’t be as sensitive.


There’s a chance here for some creative freedom.’

It’s the day before his 26th birthday when we meet.Black british looking slick in a navy suit, boyega has come a long way from his early years growing up on a council estate in peckham, south london.

The son of a british-nigerian preacher, at school he was drawn to theatre and musicals but then he saw noel clarke’s urban tale kidulthood. ‘that’s when I started liking cinema,’ he says. During college, he won a role in comedy sci-fi attack the block.

Now he’s behind one of the biggest sci-fi movies of the season. Executives at hollywood giant legendary pictures pitched him the chance to produce with upper room, the production company he formed with his friend, actor and theatre founder femi oguns.

Better still, he’s playing jake pentecost, the rebellious son of idris elba’s character stacker, who sacrificed himself first time out in the war against the kaiju, super-scary monsters from the deep. Did he look at elba’s performance in the original movie?

‘there’s something about being a pentecost I wanted to follow through,’ he nods.Attack block ‘we all know parents can have children that are significantly different to them but I wanted jake’s differences from his father to be more about the choices he’s made. That’s what’s shaped him… the rogue side of him, the rough side of him. I also wanted there to be a side where people go, “ah, you’re still stacker’s kid, I can tell you’re stacker’s kid.”’

When boyega broke into the industry, he started watching black british actors who became heroes to him: adrian lester, david harewood and, of course, elba. Did idris hand over a metaphorical baton when boyega took on pacific rim?

‘I’m still waiting for that baton, man — hand it over!’ he chuckles. ‘no, he just sent me a message to say congratulations and wishing me and my producing partner best of luck.’

‘I like interesting stories from interesting perspectives, redefining what a leading man is, a leading woman is,’ he says. ‘these days, if you’ve got a leading man for a project, there’s a hollywood DNA to it, a hollywood lore — the type of person you cast, the type of story you’re given.Attack block I’m more interested in stories that are significantly unique and different.’

This past year, he’s loved watching other young black british stars like daniel kaluuya in get out and letitia wright in black panther. These are the actors smashing the door down, bringing us new heroes to the screen.

‘to be honest, there is no law to cinema,’ he says. ‘sometimes we give cinema a bit too much sophistication as if it’s a frickin’ law degree.’

John boyega’s next role is a familiar one: star wars’ finn. ‘I’m doing episode IX for sure. July, I will be there,’ he says, confirming his return for the summer shoot at london’s pinewood studios.

It reunites him with director JJ abrams, who cast him in the force awakens and returns for this trilogy-closer after rian johnson’s the last jedi.

‘I’m not on my phone like that all the time, so I don’t know exactly what’s going on,’ he says. ‘I found out about that through one of my friends, who didn’t like the film.Black british hated it. Despised it. Felt angry.’

Boyega took his mate aside. ‘I was like, “wait! Let me explain to you! There must be a big master plan! I don’t know it yet but there is! It’s my team you’re talking about here!”’ boyega’s path to world domination attack the block (2011)

Boyega’s feature debut, he rocks as the resourceful moses who repels a london council estate invasion of sharp-toothed aliens junkhearts (2011)

As jamal, a gun-selling drug-dealer who torments eddie marsan’s ex-soldier, boyega shows his taste for tough tales from the city half of A yellow sun (2013)

A heartfelt story set in the nigerian civil war, he holds his own as ugwu, a houseboy to chiwetel ejiofor’s revolutionary professor star wars: the force awakens (2015)