When he was cast as the renegade Storm Trooper “Finn” in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, John Boyega was a relative stranger to movie fans. Now, as one of the next generation of Star Wars heroes, his “Finn” is playing alongside timeless characters like Han Solo and Luke Skywalker.
But, in many ways, the superstardom he now carries still hasn’t quite set in. Speaking recently to the Associated Press, Boyega talked about one of the most surreal experiences any actor, but especially a Star Wars actor, can have: he walked into a toy store. There, right in front of him, was a towering poster of himself hanging in the very Toys R Us he used to shop in as a child.
He was there to shop for a toy for his nephew when he came around a corner and there “he” was, in all Finn’s glory. “There were toys everywhere, and I was like ‘Wow!’ I’m on the shelf… It’s strange…”
If this is strange, it’s a feeling he’s going to have to get a lot more accustomed to. Much like his on-screen alter ego is attempting to do. Finn is out of his Trooper armor and searching for his new place in the world.
“(The new film) creates a very brave Finn and he’s eager to do anything to find out and prove that this is my position… I feel like during the filming of ‘The Last Jedi,’ we were kind of living parallels to our characters in a sense… Because Finn is now well known in the Star Wars universe, and for me, I’m known within the industry and our planet and whatever. Now he has this reputation and, it’s hard for him to keep that up while still figuring himself out because he’s been labeled as a hero.”
Boyega, too, has become something of a go-to Hollywood hero. He’s played an important role in “Detroit” and has a lead role in the upcoming Pacific Rim sequel, “Uprising.”
It’s an adjustment, but one that Boyega seems to be growing into quite well. In the next Star Wars installment, “The Last Jedi,” Boyega’s Finn is still playing heroic second fiddle to lightsaber wielding Rey, but he does get to have his own exciting duel with his former Stormtrooper officer, Captain Phasma.
But he may not be totally adjusted to his newfound fame. Boyega said he’s still surprised when he sees his face on products: “I recently went to the grocery store and saw myself on water … Everybody needs water, you know?”
It’s an interesting position for the former relative unknown. Star Wars heroism could open up endless opportunity for Boyega, but it could also typecast him early in his career. It’s definitely a worthwhile risk, as long as Finn plays his cards right.
Ronn Torossian is the Founder and CEO of the New York based public relations firm 5WPR: one of the 20 largest PR Firms in the United States.