NME meets Star Wars’ John Boyega: ‘I’ll have bragging rights for the rest of my life’

In less than a week, Star Wars: The Force Awakens will be out. It’s actually happening. NME met two of the film’s lead actors to chat droids, the Millennium Falcon and Episode VIII. Here’s the first Q&A with John Boyega, who plays Finn in the new film.

John Boyega
Age: 23
Star Wars character: Finn
Finn in brief: At the beginning of Star Wars: The Force Awakens he’s a bad guy – a stormtrooper in the First Order. Disillusioned, he absconds with a ship and crash-lands on the planet Jakku. Here he meets Rey, and acquires the lightsaber Luke Skywalker lost when Darth Vader cut off his hand in The Empire Strikes Back.

As a huge Star Wars fan, what’s it like to now be part of this?

“Shocking, exciting, and a blessing to be part of something people love so much.”

Each trailer and teaser has ramped up the expectation. How does that feel?

“I expected it. It’s just Star Wars. It’s a culture by itself. My real expectation is that when it comes out, people will enjoy it. The first trailer showed that the music was there, the practical effects, and that this film going to pay tribute to the originals.”

But still only vague plot details?

“If I had my way I wouldn’t be doing interviews, and there’d be one trailer that just says, ‘Go to see this film.’ It’s amazingly effective not knowing the narrative or the ins and outs of the characters.”

Can you tell us anything?

“No. No one knows what’s happening in this film. No one. I’m in it, believe me. I remember reading the script and saying ‘Really?’ It’s not like the others. I am very happy to keep things to myself so everyone can enjoy it the way it’s meant to be enjoyed.”

How was filming?

“I was a mess. I always had to keep myself entertained, and what better way than to have your lunch on the Millennium Falcon? There were days when I’d finished, but I’d stay to watch the rest of filming. I’ll have bragging rights for the rest of my life.”

What were the original cast like?

“Loved them. Harrison Ford in particular because I love Han Solo so much. I thought it would be fun to get under his skin. [Offscreen] I’d call him my best friend and he kept saying we weren’t. I asked why and he just said, ‘I don’t like you, kid.’ He, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill have got such great stories about making the first three. It’s hard to know exactly how it feels for them to be back all these years later.”

Can you imagine what will happen to you when this is released?

“I can’t, to be honest. I can go to the supermarket still, but I expect that will change. Would I go back and say no to the role because of that? Nah. No way.”

We’ve seen you use a lightsaber in the trailers.

“Yes I do. I use a lightsaber and it’s blue. It’s heavy to swing, and I really had to pump some weights to do that. I’m going to email JJ Abrams and ask if I can keep it.”

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is in cinemas on December 18.