The Force is Strong with John Boyega

John BoyegaPlaying a lead role in a new Star Wars film is no guarantee of success (Hayden who?), but if any of the new faces in The Force Awakens has the charisma to stick around, it’s John Boyega. A Londoner born to Nigerian parents, Boyega knew he wanted to be an actor when he realized he was no good at soccer — a good thing for us as well as himself.

His debut film was Joe Cornish’s 2011 genre mash-up Attack the Block. As villain-turned-hero Moses, Boyega thrilled us and made us laugh, proving that he could kick ass even while surrounded by aliens on the offensive. But his role as AWOL First Order stormtrooper Finn is set to catapult the 23-year-old into the stratosphere.

Harrison Ford himself told the young actor that his life would never be the same — but to hear Boyega tell it, he’s taking it all in stride. “I like the camera,” he says. “I mean, I’m a ’90s baby, so I literally grew up with the camera in my face.”

He spoke to PAPER in Los Angeles about the role and the oncoming media onslaught, but he wouldn’t say what his next project is (a hint in itself?).

Are you thinking about the darker side of fame now that you’re on the cusp of it?

Oh, the darker side I’m thinking about is Adam Driver in that suit. I’m about the movie, I’m about the process, I’m about the people, and I didn’t come into this by myself. I came into this with a fantastic team, with family, with friends, with obviously everybody at Disney.

Kathy [aka LucasFilm presidnent Kathleen Kennedy], she’s amazing. So I feel very supported coming into this. I’m just taking each day as it comes, and December 18 we’ll see exactly how this movie goes.

Any advice from the older cast members on dealing with this kind of celebrity?

I remember Harrison told me that “it’s just going to change your life.” I think that him not going beyond that just means that it’s an experience — it’s each to their own. So we will see what I learn and how I grow within the Star Wars universe. But so far, I have to say the fans have been amazing. We were in Anaheim earlier this year at San Diego Comic-Con and it’s just been brilliant to actually meet them and see how excited they are.

Are you being recognized in the street a lot yet?

No, no, no. Not at all.

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