John Boyega, who shot to fame with his role as defector Storm Trooper Finn in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” minces no words when discussing Hollywood’s race problem.
“There are no black people on ‘Game of Thrones.’ You don’t see one black person in ‘Lord of the Rings,'” Boyega said in a recent interview with GQ. “I ain’t paying money to always see one type of person on-screen. Because you see different people from different backgrounds, different cultures, every day. Even if you’re a racist, you have to live with that. We can ruffle up some feathers.”
Much has been made of the racial politics of “Game of Thrones” following controversy around this week’s announcement of “Confederate,” the next project from creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss. Per HBO’s press release, the series is set during an alternate timeline where the Southern states have seceded from the Union and “slavery remains legal and has evolved into a modern institution.”
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The backlash to the announcement was swift and severe, with critics questioning the decision to have two white men make “slavery porn.” Ira Madison III, a writer for The Daily Beast, echoed Boyega’s comments in his assessment: “The writers of a fantasy show with no black people cant wait to write a fantasy show where the black roles are… slaves,” he tweeted.
The two major non-white characters on “Game of Thrones” both began as slaves before being freed by Daenerys Targaryen: Nathalie Emmanuel, who plays Missandei, and Jacob Anderson, who plays Grey Worm. The two characters also happen to be have a romance.
Boyega has always been outspoke about the need for Hollywood to embrace diversity. “People of color and women are increasingly being shown on-screen,” he told V Magazine last year. “For things to be whitewashed just doesn’t make sense.”
Boyega will next appear in Kathryn Bigelow’s newest film, “Detroit,” which opens August 4.