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Tuesday, December 15 2015 10:37

THE FORCE AWAKENS' John Boyega - A STAR WARS Fan in a Galaxy Far, Far Away...

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With the long-awaited release of STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS, we've entered a new realm of having a STAR WARS film for a new generation that's been created by fans of the Original Trilogy. While filmmaker J.J. Abrams may be the most famous STAR WARS fan to play in the live-action sandbox, as Yoda once said, "there is another..." Actor John Boyega (Finn aka FN-2187) wasn't even born until March 17, 1992 - the very day that NO DOUBT released their debut album, and WHITE ZOMBIE would release their landmark LA SEXORCISTO: DEVIL MUSIC, Vol. 1 - the record that spawned the still in-rotation "Thunderkiss '65." When it comes to STAR WARS, it was an era known to myself as "The Dark Times" - nearly a decade past RETURN OF THE JEDI, and five years prior to the 20th Anniversary Special Editions. Boyega was just five years old when STAR WARS came back to the big screen in 1997 - and he missed it, his family opting for 1998's Disney•Pixar collaboration A BUG'S LIFE for his first big screen experience. For Boyega, his "first step into a larger world" that is STAR WARS came with George Lucas' Prequel Trilogy...

"I saw the film [1977's STAR WARS] a few years after THE PHANTOM MENACE came out," recalls Boyega during our interview at THE FORCE AWAKENS Global Press Conference in Los Angeles. "I was born in '92, so I was exposed to the Prequels first, and as a kid I didn't really care about story and all that kind of stuff. I just saw that green guy [Yoda] do an acrobatic [in 2002's ATTACK OF THE CLONES], so I was like yeah, 'Hell yeah! Turn it on, man! Turn it on! Turn it up!' I enjoyed watching it as a kid, and then when I was older I was more aware that I wanted to be an actor, and I liked the story. I watched the originals and that just finished me - you know, apart from death and taxes,  I'm gonna be a STAR WARS fan for life!"

When Boyega first stepped foot onto the set of THE FORCE AWAKENS, he was given chills. On wrap day, he famously had Harrison Ford (read my interview with him, here) sign his JAKKS Pacific large-scale Han Solo in Stormtrooper Disguise action figure (video just surfaced) - an appropriate choice since audiences first glimpse at a new character in THE FORCE AWAKENS was Boyega's Finn in full Stormtrooper gear... soon-to-be an action figure as well, part of Hasbro's STAR WARS collection.

John Boyega as Finn in Stormtrooper Gear

"I know you were out on #ForceFriday - out with Daisy scooping up some of the new toys," I said, recalling some Instagram videos that had surfaced, many since deleted as Boyega wiped and re-started his account just 8 weeks ago as a lead-up to the film.

"Yeah,  you saw me," he replies with a sly grin - "Let's just say I went into the Disney Store, and when I came out, there was nothing left!"

While George Lucas' Original Trilogy spawned countless hours of play for millions of kids around the world, now that play inspires those who are carrying that cinematic torch. On-screen, we know that Finn wields a familiar blue lightsaber in parts of THE FORCE AWAKENS, and while Boyega readily admits playing with a lightsaber during his own youth, the actor fancies himself to be more akin to Han in real life.

John Boyega

"I was more of a Han dude. I wasn't really into Luke like that," states Boyega about his personal allegiance in the realm of STAR WARS fandom. "It's not because he wasn't a good character. It's just because I like the characters that represent human beings in these kind of projects. If any of us were in the STAR WARS universe, we wouldn't be Luke. We wouldn't be trying to fight against The Empire - Hell, no! I'm trying to live, I'm trying to be Han. I'm trying to make money! I'm trying to survive! The only reason why I would be brave is to save my own life, all right?"

John Boyega and Oscar Isaac
Pictured: Boyega (left) with Oscar Isaac as Resistance Pilot Poe Dameron

So how does that translate into John Boyega and Harrison Ford as Finn and Han on the big screen?

"Harrison and I formed a really interesting relationship that really has influenced the Finn and the Han relationship - the way in which Finn sees Han. It's like, 'Oh man, yeah, Gramps is cool! And Han is kind of like, 'Dude, I'm Han Solo, like, have respect,' and there's no respect whatsoever. But I think that Han sees a young Han in Finn, and so they form this bond, and it's gonna be so hilarious when you see their duo, and the lack of respect for each other, but the undertone of love that they have for each other. It's pretty cool."

STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS opens Friday, December 18, 2015. Get tickets now via Fandango.

Check out more Exclusive Coverage of the STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS Launch:

The cycle of play continues... Rock Daughter Addie in her Finn/Resistance Costume:

A photo posted by James Zahn (@therockfather) on

For the latest on THE FORCE AWAKENS, ROGUE ONE and more, keep your browser pointed at TheRockFather.com/StarWars

Disclosure: THE ROCK FATHER Magazine has partnered with Disney/Lucasfilm for this coverage series. Travel and accommodations provided by Mickey Mouse. Thanks to Louise Bishop of MomStart.com for taking photos of the interview.

James Zahn

James Zahn is not a journalist, nor a blogger, though he may be credited as such by others, or even accept the title... depending on the circumstance.  Instead, he considers himself largely to be an "entertainment and lifestyle writer," bringing 25+ years of experience in the entertainment and publishing industries into the family realm as THE ROCK FATHER™.

As a media personality, commentator, adventurer and raconteur, James now finds himself raising a pair young girls - The Rock Daughters™ - along with his wife from their Illinois home.

He is a member of The Toy Insider Parent Advisory Board, has contributed to The Toy Book and writes a regular Star Wars column - Transmissions from a Galaxy Far, Far Away for The Pop Insider. He also regularly serves as a Brand Ambassador and spokesperson for several Globally-recognized pop culture and lifestyle brands in addition to consulting for a number of toy manufacturers. 

Creatively, James has directed/edited music videos, lyric videos, and album trailers for bands such as FEAR FACTORY, has appeared as an actor in feature films and commercials, written comic books, and performed in bands. He currently serves as an artist manager and video director for PRODUCT OF HATE, whose debut album was released by Napalm Records in 2016, distributed by ADA/Warner Music in the U.S. with Universal Music handling global.

James and/or his work have been featured in/on CNN, FOX Business, NBC, ABC, WGN, G4, The Chicago Tribune, BusinessWire, Babble, Fangoria, Starlog and more. He's appeared as a music expert on CNN's AC360 alongside Anderson Cooper, and has been interviewed by Larry King. In the past he served as a writer for the Netflix Stream Team,  Fandango Family and PBS KIDS, penned articles for Sprout and PopSugar, and was a contributor to Chicago Parent.

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