John Boyega tells the truth about Hollywood: good, bad, and ugly. It was STAR WARS then. It’s the big studios’ treatment of writers and actors now. Creatively, he’s starting fresh—with lots and lots of big swings. Available exclusively online as a digital feature, “It’s Time to Listen to John Boyega. Again.” by Clover Hope is on Esquire.com now.
On not being “toxic humble” and how that term is defined: “Toxic humble, to me, is the concept of: I don’t care about the audience. It’s all about my art. Come on, man. Stop it. Like, stop. The audience participates in that, and you are selling it to them. You’ve got to step in and fill that space. You have to step into it.”
On the health of They Cloned Tyrone co-star Jamie Foxx and the public’s curiosity about it: “I’m the guy who’s like, Cool, you gotta have that privacy, regardless of what you’re going through…At the end of the day, you’re curious about somebody you’ve never met. Let’s come back down to reality here. Yes, you care about celebrities and stars, but if that same celebrity is asking for privacy, how come you don’t care about that?”
On his private life: “Most of my life is mysterious. Like, people do not know about me and how I roll, who I’m with, what I’m doing. I get curious about people ’cause of the work they do. Your private life, I’m not trying to get into that too tough unless it’s some criminal crap, like, Oh, I didn’t know that person would do that. Who you’re dating and all that? I don’t have no interest. Also, I go, You don’t really care, though, innit? My mom and dad care about that.”
On how the industry has treated him since publicly advocating for equality in casting: “Once you make certain statements, everybody knows where you stand, so people don’t approach you trying to play the game. Since then, I’ve worked with Netflix, I’ve worked with Sony and other studios, and they’re very much aware of how I am, how I operate, and they found that they can still do their job…When you’re the one actor saying it, it becomes like, Oh my God. But I’m glad now.”
On the need for equity and transparency from the major studios: “[P]rivacy, with [studio heads], is their safe haven. That privacy has protected them and allowed them to make certain decisions with artists. It’s not fair. For something that’s such a group effort, there needs to be more of a balance and a redefinition of what is fair.”
On how streaming has impacted the industry: “Streaming has been a great opportunity for a lot of us who aren’t necessarily in all the biggest blockbuster films every year. For me, it’s a symptom of change. But I hope there’s a balance. I don’t want to lose cinema. You see some streaming services that offer these high-end movies a chance to be in the movie theater for a short amount of time. Although they don’t bloody market it. But you get to see how both of them can coexist.”
On whether he sees himself in the Marvel Cinematic Universe: “I don’t see a space there. Years and years ago, I used to want to be in Black Panther. They’ve got that handled. Someone give me a Hancock.”
[Photo Credit: Andre D. Wagner for Esquire Magazine]
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