Man Crush Monday: John Boyega

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Mandatory Credit: Photo by Stewart Cook/REX/Shutterstock (9473076ba) John Boyega 'Pacific Rim Uprising' film premiere, Arrivals, Los Angeles, USA - 21 Mar 2018
Born John Adedayo B. Adegboyega
17 March 1992 (age 26)
London, England
Alma mater University of Greenwich
Occupation Actor
Years active 2011–present

John Adedayo B. Adegboyega (born 17 March 1992), known professionally as John Boyega, is an English actor known for playing Finn in the 2015 film Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the seventh film of the Star Wars series, and its 2017 sequel Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Boyega rose to prominence in his native United Kingdom for his role as Moses in the 2011 sci-fi comedy film Attack the Block.

Boyega’s other credits include historical drama film Detroit (2017), the science fiction film Pacific Rim Uprising (2018), four episodes of the television series 24: Live Another Day and the drama Imperial Dreams (2014). Boyega received the BAFTA Rising Star Award in 2016.

Early life

Boyega was born on 17 March 1992 in London, England, to British Nigerian parents, Abigail (née Aboderin), who works with the disabled, and Samson Adegboyega, a Pentecostal minister. His first role was a leopard in a play at his primary school.

Boyega was a pupil at Oliver Goldsmith Primary School. While acting in a play there at the age of nine, he was noticed by Teresa Early, the artistic director of Theatre Peckham, a learning theatre for young people who live in south London. After obtaining financial assistance from a hardship fund, he joined the theatre, spending his time there outside school hours between the ages of nine and 14. Boyega’s father, a preacher, had wanted Boyega to become a preacher too, but was supportive of his son’s theatrical interests.

In 2003, Boyega started his secondary education at Westminster City School, where he took part in various school productions. Between 2008 and 2010, he attended South Thames College at the college’s Wandsworth campus to study for a National Diploma in Performing Arts. His activities at the college included playing the title role in the college’s production of Othello. He enrolled at the University of Greenwich to study BA Film Studies & Media Writing, but dropped out to focus on acting.

Career

Sundance Film Festival, 2014: John Boyega (2nd from the left), together with Josh Wiggins, Kodi Smit-McPheeand Sharon Swart (from the left to the right)

Boyega trained at the Identity School of Acting in Hackney, and appeared in Six Parties at the National Theatre and Category B at the Tricycle Theatre prior to being offered a role in the 2011 film Attack the Block. In September 2011, HBO announced that Boyega had been cast in the boxing drama pilot Da Brick, loosely based on Mike Tyson’s life. Boyega was expected to play Donnie, who is released from a juvenile detention centre on his 18th birthday and begins to examine what it means to be a man. The pilot was written by John Ridley, but was not picked up by HBO. Also in 2011, he acted in the film Junkhearts in which he portrayed Jamal, a drug dealer who finds some guns and tries to sell them.

Boyega was chosen by Fionnuala Halligan of Screen International as one of the “UK Stars of Tomorrow 2011” and appeared alongside two other actors on the front cover of that magazine in its July 2011 edition. In March 2012, Boyega was cast in the film adaptation of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s book Half of a Yellow Sun. On 29 April 2014, it was confirmed that Boyega had been cast as a lead character in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It was later revealed Boyega would play Finn, a stormtrooper for the First Order, who leaves the military power after witnessing their cruelty in his first combat mission before joining the fight against them. The film was released on 18 December 2015. Both the film and Boyega’s performance received acclaim from both audiences and critics.

In 2017, Boyega starred in Detroit, Kathryn Bigelow’s film about the 1967 Detroit riots. The same year, he reprised his role as Finn in Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

In January 2016, Boyega formed his own production company, Upperroom Entertainment Limited. His company co-produced Pacific Rim Uprising (2018), the sequel to the 2013 movie Pacific Rim, alongside Legendary Entertainment. Boyega also starred in the lead role of the film, Jake Pentecost.

Filmography

Film

Year Title Role Director Notes
2011 Attack the Block Moses Joe Cornish Black Reel Award for Best Actor
Nominated – Black Reel Award for Best Breakthrough Performance
Nominated – Black Reel Award for Best Ensemble
Nominated – British Independent Film Award for Most Promising Newcomer
Nominated – Empire Award for Best Male Newcomer
Nominated – Evening Standard British Film Award for Most Promising Newcomer
Nominated – London Film Critics’ Circle Award for Young British Performer of the Year
Junkhearts Jamal Tinge Krishnan
2013 Half of a Yellow Sun Ugwu Biyi Bandele
2014 Imperial Dreams Bambi Malik Vitthal
2015 Star Wars: The Force Awakens FN-2187 / Finn J. J. Abrams BAFTA Rising Star Award
Empire Award for Best Male Newcomer
Nominated – Georgia Film Critics Association for Best Ensemble
Nominated – Golden Schmoes Award for Breakthrough Performance
Nominated – MTV Movie Award for Best Breakthrough Performance
Nominated – MTV Movie Award for Best Action Performance
Nominated – MTV Movie Award for Best Ensemble
Nominated – Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Award for Favorite Movie Actor
Nominated – Saturn Award for Best Actor
2017 The Circle Ty James Ponsoldt
Detroit Melvin Dismukes Kathryn Bigelow
Star Wars: The Last Jedi Finn Rian Johnson Nominated—Empire Award for Best Actor
2018 Pacific Rim: Uprising Jake Pentecost Steven S. DeKnight Also producer

Television

Year Title Role Notes
2011 Da Brick Donnie Pilot
2011 Becoming Human Danny Curtis 4 episodes
2011 Law & Order: UK Jamal Clarkson Episode: “Survivor’s Guilt”
2012 My Murder Shakilus Townsend Television film
2013 The Whale William Bond Television film
2014 24: Live Another Day Chris Tanner 4 episodes
2015 Major Lazer Blkmrkt (voice) 10 episodes
2015 Saturday Night Live Himself Segment: “Star Wars: The Force Awakens Screen Tests”
2016 Tinkershrimp & Dutch Dutch (voice) 5 episodes
2017–2018 Star Wars Forces of Destiny Finn 2 episodes
2018 Watership Down Bigwig (voice) 4 episodes

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