Actor John Boyega has been in the news a lot for the past year. From taking a leading part in the conversation around racial inequality to shedding light on his mistreatment at the hands of Star Wars fans and the studio itself, John Boyega has not shied away from addressing the grimy aspects of Hollywood fame. In a recent Q&A for his upcoming movie anthology series Small Axe, the actor went one step further, comparing being a part of a big movie franchise to being in a “luxury prison”.
“Being in a big franchise, it’s kind of like luxury jail sometimes for an actor when you want to do something else. Because remember, in a franchise you’re working on one character for many years, which can starve your other muscles. And in wanting to be in something where I knew that I’d play a different type of role, a different type of man, and then knowing [Small Axe director] Steve [McQueen] through, we’re all a part of the same industry so I’d heard about Steve’s directing style, I was really really curious and excited to have the opportunity anyway to be a part of it. And when it came through I was on the tele like ‘this is my moment.'”
Boyega’s comments are reflective of the attitude of many actors who have shied away from franchise roles in the past. According to reports, Joaquin Phoenix was in talks to play Doctor Strange in the MCU, but backed off from the project after it became clear that he would have to keep playing the role for many movies, and that would prevent him from taking on other projects.
It is a curious situation for actors to find themselves in. The vast majority of actors in Hollywood live paycheck to paycheck, taking bit parts in any project with hopes of getting discovered. When fame does come calling, the same actors frequently find themselves boxed into a specific niche and playing the same type of role again and again, which can become creatively unsatisfying.
It was for this very reason that David Schwimmer has often admitted to being resentful of the fame he got from doing Friends since the only roles he got after that for a long time was “Ross-type” characters. Clearly, Boyega was afraid of the same thing happening if audiences only ever thought of him as Finn from Star Wars.
Still, the actor has not turned his back completely on franchise films. Boyega frequently responds positively to fanart shared online casting him in various franchises, from Jason Todd in Batman to Green Lantern John Stewart. In fact, when the actor’s Small Axe co-star Letitia Wright mentioned last year that he would make a good James Bond, Boyega’s response was quite enthusiastic.
“Hey, listen. [With] Steve McQueen directing, let’s do this. We could show them something different. We still bring that sophistication. You know, James Bond has to be James Bond. But, we could do something with that.”
This news originated at Cinemablend.