John Boyega on avoiding franchises post Star Wars: 'Sometimes you get typecast and misjudged'

John Boyega in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
(Image credit: Lucasfilm)

To many of us, John Boyega is best known as Finn in Star Wars – the former stormtrooper who becomes a Resistance hero in the final three movies of the Skywalker Saga. But in the years since The Rise of Skywalker’s release, Boyega has distanced himself from the franchise.

In its place, the award-winning actor has made more varied choices with his roles, including playing Leroy Logan in Steve McQueen’s Small Axe and his current part as real-life figure King Ghezo in The Woman King. But is another franchise as big as a Galaxy Far, Far Away on the horizon for the star? 

"I think for me, I'm just focused on doing the original movies at the moment," Boyega tells Total Film while promoting The Woman King. "There is a big want and need for original films, rather than being stuck on a franchise for a long amount of time playing one character. That can sometimes get you typecast and misjudged. I'm enjoying playing individual characters and having to do the work and switch up every single film. So that's where I'm at at the moment, and I'm enjoying that for now."

The Woman King

(Image credit: Sony Pictures)

For Boyega, The Woman King also fits this brief perfectly. The new historical epic directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood and starring Viola Davis has been winning rave reviews. The movie tells the story of an army of real elite women warriors called the Agojie who helped protect the West African Kingdom of Dahomey in the 1800s.

His character, King Ghezo, is the new leader of Dahomey facing a troubled legacy from his brother who has profited heavily from the slave trade. He’s under pressure from General Nanisca (Davis) to pivot from selling their captured enemies to the trade and instead focus on selling Palm Oil.

"I like playing a character that's so pivotal to the education of African history, of black history," Boyega says of the part. "A complex character who makes you discover other sides to that narrative. King Ghezo is somebody that represents a person that definitely made decisions in several different ways – and that affected his people in several different ways. And the more and more you get to know him the more and more you get to explore what that necessarily means in terms of the movie, as well as the actual history that's on the ground."

The Woman King is in cinemas now. For more on the movie, check our in-depth interview with Boyega and director Prince-Bythewood about making The Woman King and awards buzz.

Fay Watson
Deputy Entertainment Editor

I’m the Deputy Entertainment Editor here at GamesRadar+, covering TV and film for the Total Film and SFX sections online. I previously worked as a Senior Showbiz Reporter and SEO TV reporter at Express Online for three years. I've also written for The Resident magazines and Amateur Photographer, before specializing in entertainment.