On June 3 in London’s Hyde Park, John Boyega stood in front of a crowd brought together in support of Black Lives Matter (BLM) and spoke passionately about the importance of the movement. The 28-year-old actor fervently emphasized to the protesters that “Black lives have always mattered.”
Boyega went on to say, “Today is about innocent people who were halfway through their process.” He reiterated further that “We don’t know what George Floyd could’ve achieved … but today, we’re going to make sure that that won’t be an alien thought to our young ones.”
The speech and protest were initiated by the horrific death of George Floyd, who was killed by a Minneapolis police officer in May. The officer used extreme force to arrest Floyd for allegedly using a counterfeit bill, all while being recorded by witnesses and security cameras. The officer who killed Floyd, along with the three other officers who stood by or assisted with the arrest, did not immediately face charges for the death of the 46-year-old Black man.
This tragedy caused the world to erupt in outrage as this senseless death provided one more example, on top of many others, of systemic racism against Black people, especially by the police. People banded together to protest police brutality and call for the arrest of the officers involved in Floyd’s murder.
The pain was evident in Boyega’s voice as he proudly stood before the Hyde Park protestors. “Look, I don’t know if I’m going to have a career after this, but f— that.”
John Boyega is best known for his role as Finn in the newest “Star Wars” trilogy, but he has also played in more socially charged dramas like the award-winning 2017 film “Detroit,” based on the uprisings in the city in 1967. Additionally, he has acted in the films “Pacific Rim: Uprising,” “The Circle” and “Naked Singularity,” which has yet to be released.
The fact that Boyega expected to be shut out of the movie industry because of his words and support for his community garners criticism for the way Hollywood seems to view its Black colleagues. After all, Boyega received a massive amount of hate during his time in the “Star Wars” franchise and would continually be excluded from marketing campaigns and official merchandise, despite being a main character. Furthermore, the franchise was even accused of sidelining Finn into more of a side role when he was originally intended to have a much more significant part.
However, as Boyega’s statement conveys the fear around the loss of his career, many prestigious writers and directors have eagerly stepped forward with offers to work with him in the future.
Matthew A. Cheery, the Oscar-winning director of “Hair Love,” tweeted, “I would work with John Boyega and I urge other Non-Black creators to affirm that they have his back as well,” and “Lego Movie” director Chris Miller responded with “Yup!”
The tweet was followed by “Get Out” director, Jordan Peele, tweeting, “We got you, John.”
We got you, John. https://t.co/oX7Rr52omx
— Jordan Peele (@JordanPeele) June 3, 2020
Other directors followed suit, including: “Birds of Prey” director, Cathy Yan; “Ant-Man” director, Peyton Reed; “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” co-director Rodney Rothman; “Book Smart” director, Olivia Wilde; and many more.
With the amount of support he has received, the young actor surely has a massive number of roles to choose from in the future. So, here are some roles that I would love to see John Boyega play in the upcoming years.
A “Final Girl” moment
In honor of Peele’s offer to work with Boyega, I would love to see the actor lead one of the director’s next horrors or psychological thrillers. Boyega has the capacity to incite the same intensity and tension that previous leads possessed in “Get Out” and “Us.” He possesses a vulnerability that could easily translate to the naïve, trustworthy archetype seen in the horror genre, and he still looks strong enough to believably survive until the end.
18th century pomp, without the circumstance
The role I would be most excited to see Boyega play is a romantic lead. Romance is a genre that is woefully lacking in Black leads. I’ve admittedly already made a whole mental fancast of my picks to play in a new adaption of “Pride and Prejudice,” but I’ll just say that Boyega would play a wonderfully broody and compelling Mr. Darcy.
If not “Pride and Prejudice,” then he could be cast in a “Sense and Sensibility” or “Persuasion” adaption. Whether these stories are modernized or kept in faithful 18th century style, I think he would kill a format that relies heavily on understated but expressive acting in the name of propriety. There is also the fact that Boyega has an English accent, so I say let him use it.
Rom-coms will never die, nor should they.
Almost an extension of the previous suggestion, I would also be exceedingly eager to see Boyega be the leading man for a rom-com. Just like with epic dramatized romance, I am aware that there are even fewer fun and cute romantic comedies that feature Black leads. Representation is needed in all genres, especially if they already feature an overabundance of white actors.
I could imagine that he has the charm to pull off playing in a remake of something like “Sleepless in Seattle” or “Splash.” I believe having the range to pull off a role originated by Tom Hanks is a huge compliment. Although, I could also envision Boyega playing a new rom-com role written by Olivia Wilde. I think a common trend for romantic interests in 2020 is finding some balance between the standard “problematic cool guy” and the “too-nice guy” trope.
It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s another superhero movie.
Another role that I think would be fitting for the actor would be an epic superhero part. Marvel and DC have an abundance of superheroes that could be uplifted by the “Star Wars” actor’s experience. Perhaps with a well-written “Green Lantern” movie, Boyega could be cast as John Stewart, the first black superhero for DC. I think introducing Stewart to the DC movie franchise would work much more in the company’s favor than trying to pull off another revamp of the story they attempted with Hal Jordan.
For Marvel, Boyega could be cast as a hero like Vision or hopefully even be considered for a traditionally “white” role like Black Bolt or Nova. There is also the option of replacing Chris Pratt with Boyega in Marvel and non-Marvel movies — I like that option too.
If all else fails, do it yourself.
Finally, even without consideration of Boyega’s personal presence in upcoming content, the actor has already taken steps to ensure that Hollywood keeps its promise to keep a multitude of Black actors on the big screen. The Hollywood Reporter announced that Boyega signed a deal with Netflix to create a slate of movies with “a specific focus on non-English language films from West and East Africa” with Boyega’s U.K.-based UpperRoom Productions.
John Boyega is committed to fighting for representation, and though he can find comfort in knowing that there is support behind him, he is using that assurance and power to achieve a more diverse and rewarding future.