John Boyega makes a run for the TIE Fighter.
This time, he’s not in a stormtrooper uniform, ripping off his helmet in a panic. This is real life, backstage at the Star Wars Celebration panel for The Force Awakens. There are toys arrayed on a table, and the 23-year-old superfan can’t keep his hands off them.
Boyega’s was the first face we saw from Episode VII, back when the first teaser was revealed last November. Since then, fans have been speculating about whether his character, Finn, is actually a member of the Imperial fighting force, or perhaps a rebel in disguise, like Luke and Han when they infiltrated the Death Star in the original movie.
It turns out, he plays an honest-to-God stormtrooper. The carbon-copy clones were retired by the Empire a generation before, according to Lucasfilm canon, and other denizens of the galaxy were recruited to fight on the Empire’s behalf. But whether Finn is a good guy on the wrong side, or a bad guy who gets better, is a question director J.J. Abrams wants the movie to answer on Dec. 18.
Until then, I can attest that Boyega definitely knows his way around a TIE Fighter, a plastic one anyway. And he was equally intrigued by the large stormtrooper figurine among the toys scattered backstage. I couldn’t resist either, and picked up a Darth Vader helmet while we did his first interview about the movie. It was at this moment of total geekery that someone walked by and snapped our picture.
As you can see, it was a pretty tense, combative conversation.
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