On Monday night, Black Girl Nerds hosted a special screening of ‘Pacific Rim: Uprising’ in Regal Battery Park followed by a Q&A with John Boyega.
The film—a modern creature feature that evokes child-like joy as only a movie about giant robots punching giant monsters in the face can—stars Boyega as Jake Pentecost, son of Idris Elba’s character, Stacker Pentecost, from the 2013 original.
Black Girl Nerds creator Jamie Broadnax, who moderated the Q&A, introduced Boyega as a “sci-fi king.” With ‘Attack the Block,’ a little thing called ‘Star Wars,’ and now the ‘Pacific Rim’ sequel under his belt, Boyega seems more and more deserving of the title with each project.
Taking questions form Broadnax, Twitter, and audience members, Boyega navigated a wide range of topics in addition to the film, from anime, to his thoughts on joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe, to his haircut.
“I’ve never had to work this hard before,” said Boyega, citing time constraints, scouting locations, and managing finances as growing pains he overcame serving as a first time producer in addition to his role in the film.
The production also faced the challenge of making the narrative connection between ‘Uprising’ and Academy Award winner Guillermo del Toro’s ‘Pacific Rim,’ as the latter offers no mention Stacker’s son, something Boyega, as a fan, expressed concern over. However, he found that the script connected the two movies by expanding Stacker’s character.
“For us as an audience to have to question that Stacker may not have been the best dad in the world…there’s something about tainting our heroes in sci-fi that makes it more realistic,” he said.
Boyega also spoke about how anime influenced his vision of the film. In anime, he notes, fights are not just for show—they move the story forward. For crafting the look of the film’s climatic battle sequence, Boyega even recommended that the visual effects team watch the final great ninja war of ‘Naruto.’ But when asked if he would ever produce a live-action anime, he balked.
“A lot of these anime movies are too Americanized…that obviously has a direct link to funding,” he said. “If I was going to do an anime movie, it would have to be, you know, Japanese, the whole shebang. For now, that’s complicated territory.”
Boyega also denied a present interest in joining the MCU. Instead, he discussed the importance of being an audience member, stating, “My part in ‘Black Panther is to be in the audience, to be a supporter just like you.”
‘Star Wars,’ Disney’s other monolithic property, one that Boyega is very much a part of, obviously came up as well.
“I’m the one who made the decision for Finn to have the short ‘fro,” Boyega said, sporting the self-proclaimed more stylish box-fade from ‘Uprising.’ “I wanted people to really see the texture of a black man’s hair.”
After the next ‘Star Wars’ installment, however, Boyega claims he won’t be adding any new sci-fi films to the roster, choosing instead to vie for more dramatic roles.
“’Detroit’ was an amazing experience, and I’d just like to explore myself as an actor in that realm.”
‘Pacific Rim: Uprising’ hits theaters Friday, March 23rd.