This is the face of a man who clearly doesn’t know how to shut the f—k up and mind his own goddamn business when Black people are talking.
Earlier this week, British GQ released their cover story/interview with John Boyega, who not only discussed his participation in Black Lives Matter protests recently as well as his role in the upcoming BBC One miniseries Small Axe but he also spoke up about his role as Finn in the Star Wars sequel trilogy (as opposed to him throwing all kinds of Star Wars-related shade on Twitter and Instagram) and how he really wasn’t happy with Disney and their choices on how the films were made and also marketed.
This is Boyega’s first substantial interview since finishing the franchise — his first since last year’s The Rise Of Skywalker tied a highly contentious, hurried ribbon on the 43-year-old space saga. How does he reflect on his involvement and the way the newest trilogy was concluded?
“It’s so difficult to manoeuvre,” he says, exhaling deeply, visibly calibrating the level of professional diplomacy to display. “You get yourself involved in projects and you’re not necessarily going to like everything. [But] what I would say to Disney is do not bring out a black character, market them to be much more important in the franchise than they are and then have them pushed to the side. It’s not good. I’ll say it straight up.” He is talking about himself here — about the character of Finn, the former Stormtrooper who wielded a lightsaber in the first film before being somewhat nudged to the periphery. But he is also talking about other people of colour in the cast - Naomi Ackie and Kelly Marie Tran and even Oscar Isaac (“a brother from Guatemala”) - who he feels suffered the same treatment; he is acknowledging that some people will say he’s “crazy” or “making it up”, but the reordered character hierarchy of The Last Jedi was particularly hard to take.
“Like, you guys knew what to do with Daisy Ridley, you knew what to do with Adam Driver,” he says. “You knew what to do with these other people, but when it came to Kelly Marie Tran, when it came to John Boyega, you know fuck all. So what do you want me to say? What they want you to say is, ‘I enjoyed being a part of it. It was a great experience…’ Nah, nah, nah. I’ll take that deal when it’s a great experience. They gave all the nuance to Adam Driver, all the nuance to Daisy Ridley. Let’s be honest. Daisy knows this. Adam knows this. Everybody knows. I’m not exposing anything.”
He is on a breathless roll now, breaking his long corporate omerta to touch on the unthinking, systemic mistreatment of black characters in blockbusters (“They’re always scared. They’re always fricking sweating”) and what he sees as the relative salvage job that returnee director JJ Abrams performed on The Rise Of Skywalker (“Everybody needs to leave my boy alone. He wasn’t even supposed to come back and try to save your shit”). Even though he also acknowledges that it was an “amazing opportunity” and a “stepping stone” that has precipitated so much good in his life and career, he is palpably exhilarated to be finally saying all this. But to dismiss these words as merely professional bitterness or paranoia is to miss the point. His primary motivation is to show the frustrations and difficulties of trying to operate within what can feel like a permanently rigged system. He is trying, really, to let you know what it feels like to have a boyhood dream ruptured by the toxic realities of the world.
Needless to say, Boyega’s words spread like wildfire all across the Internet. There were those who saw this as yet another reminder of how Disney and Lucasfilm failed both Boyega and Finn in not giving them better material. There were those who felt that Finn should’ve also become a Jedi Knight just like Rey, and that the marketing straight up lied to everyone’s faces by giving them promises that they were afraid or unwilling to keep. There were also those who accused Boyega of once again belittling Kelly Marie Tran and ignoring all of the bullying and racism she experienced from Internet trolls ever since she joined the cast of Star Wars: The Last Jedi. (Never mind that Boyega did acknowledge how Tran was also treated like crap and that he was mostly talking about his own negative experiences about being a part of Star Wars, and not talking on behalf of Tran as if she were incapable of speaking up for herself. And there’s also a lot to be said about people on Twitter talking shit about Boyega speaking out, much like they did with Ray Fisher when he spoke out against Joss Whedon, but praising Tran for not being as loud and seemingly knowing her place, but that’s another rant for another day.)
And then there’s Michael Rapaport, who is the living, real-life embodiment of what Ned Flanders once said about Lisa Simpson after his house was destroyed by a hurricane: “Do I hear the sound of butting in? It’s gotta be little Lisa Simpson, Springfield’s answer to a question no one asked!”
In response to Boyega’s interview, along with some tweets about his interview, Michael Rapaport (who always looks like he was bitten by a zombie and is in the middle of transforming into one, but doing a poor job of hiding it from friends and family) decided to hop his ass into Boyega’s mentions to share his opinion on the subject.
@JohnBoyega Yo my man you have done so much in such a short period of time. Congrats.. but you ain’t the first actor to have an un nuanced character in a Star Wars movie #beniciodeltoro Welcome to show business. Shit doesn’t always go ur way— MichaelRapaport (@MichaelRapaport) September 2, 2020
Very few people were impressed by Rapaport’s attempts at schooling Boyega on how Hollywood really works, least of all Boyega himself.
Did you read the article ? 👀 thanks for the additional name to my list though. pic.twitter.com/ByxhGVhdZz— John Boyega (@JohnBoyega) September 2, 2020
Not that it stopped Rapaport from continuing to run his mouth, as if he was saying anything that was worth reading or listening to.
Ya I read the article. That’s why I tweeted u. It’s show business.— MichaelRapaport (@MichaelRapaport) September 2, 2020
Things don’t always work out the way YOU plan.Happens to ALL of Us. Again be grateful for all u done so far which is a lot more than TONS of great actors of all races who also had roles cut down & will continue to
U could always not do the next Star Wars film because you have CHOICES. Unlike 99.9% of most actors of all races— MichaelRapaport (@MichaelRapaport) September 2, 2020
And Boyega simply responded to Rapaport’s helpful advice with this…
:) no. Thanks though.— John Boyega (@JohnBoyega) September 2, 2020
And after that, others on Twitter felt the need to share their own thoughts with Rapaport about his inability to keep his mouth shut and mind his own business when it comes to Black people and their business.
He's just jealous that you trumped his career by miles within a couple years vs his life long attempt to be anything other than Phoebe's cop boyfriend. pic.twitter.com/fwVlwIJBcU— Francy Kate McKay (@3_katemckay) September 2, 2020
What has Michael Rapaport ever done is his whole entire career that gives him the audacity to fix his chapped lips at John Boyega, talmbout “un-nuanced roles are just showbiz”. Of course *your* characters are not nuanced, you’re just doing guest-appearances babe. pic.twitter.com/Eu45psRHOy— Tasha J. (@theglossier) September 2, 2020
A young, talented Black actor LITERALLY spells out an experience he has, and this old ass white dude’s first reaction is to be like, “just be grateful,” — the jokes, they write themselves in 2020.— Tasha J. (@theglossier) September 2, 2020
But, yes. Boyega, a young, talented actor coming off a role in the most popular franchise maybe ever should take career advice from Michael Rapaport, a freeze-dried raspberry who peaked unspectacularly in the 90s and against whom Lili Taylor once had to file a restraining order— [kie.ran] (@danblackroyd) September 3, 2020
You culture vulture dickhead. I don't even know why Boyega responded to your bitch ass.— Frederick Joseph (@FredTJoseph) September 3, 2020
I’m a Culture Vulture whos done more for the Culture than you’ll do in in your entire Life. Yo Yo.— MichaelRapaport (@MichaelRapaport) September 3, 2020
Tweeting at Celebrities daily looking for shout outs. FOH
I honestly don’t know whether Rapaport (who looks like the news anchors from Batman when they stopped wearing makeup on the air because The Joker was poisoning everyone via makeup and hygiene products) actually believes this bullshit he was tweeting or if he was just trolling, but it’s still enough to make me shake my head at the things he’s willing to tweet. Again.
(angry-sighs) Look here, Rapaport. It’s bad enough that you had the Caucasity to talk shit about Janet Jackson and her legendary career, only to have your ass handed to you on a silver platter with all of the trimmings. It’s bad enough that your performance as Daryl Crowe Jr. on Season 5 of Justified was one of the worst things to ever happen on a television screen, and made every episode damn near unwatchable whenever you showed up. It’s grossly bad that you were willing to be a part of Barstool Sports, the brand that is so unfunny and misogynistic and desperate for attention that I’m pretty sure that their home office is located in a Rohypnol factory. And it’s especially bad that you made life hell for Lili Taylor when your relationship ended and made it necessary for her to get a restraining order against you. And let’s not even get into when you tried to Catfish by pretending to be your own nonexistent son on Twitter so you could defend yourself from people who were saying unflattering things about you.
But you fixing your nonexistent White lips to try and invalidate the experiences and thoughts of a Black actor just because they’re not the same experiences and thoughts as yours, once again reminding Black people that your presence isn’t needed, wanted, or even welcome is annoying and tiresome, and it always will be. I don’t know who told you that your supporting roles in Zebrahead, Higher Learning, and Next Friday are proof that you’ve actually done something for the culture worth remembering or acknowledging, but I promise you that those people were lying. Your need to involve yourself in any discussion centered around Black people will always be met by a “Bitch, who asked you?!” You’re about as effective as Tuxedo Mask on Sailor Moon when it comes to doing anything on behalf of Black people or our culture.
And even if you did do anything on behalf of Black people and our culture, we would still tell you to sit the f—k down and shut the f—k up when trying to talk over us, tell us that we should just shut up and dribble and be grateful for the crumbs that we get as we watch others enjoy entire feasts right in front of us, and act as if our anger about how Hollywood treats us (or about any other subject) is without any merit.
Besides, if we wanted to hear from a White person who acts if they’re not actually White, and speaks up way too much because they feel that their thoughts and opinions are more important than the thoughts and opinions of Black people, then we’d talk to Jessica Krug.
P.S. Michael Rapaport, if you’re vain and foolish enough to vanity-search your name on Twitter and on the rest of the Internet to see what people are saying about you, and you happen to find this article, this GIF is for you.
Header Image Source: Getty Images