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Interview With John Boyega - Pacific Rim: Uprising
Published Date: 07/03/2018
In the Pacific Rim universe, the Kaiju are giant monsters that erupted from the depths of the Pacific Ocean. Entering our world through the dimension-spanning portal called the Breach, they are living weapons of mass destruction, bio-engineered to terraform planets. In Pacific Rim Uprising, the Kaiju evolve into a deadly and unexpected new species. To fight this new enemy Pacific Rim: Uprising needed a star of the stature of John Boyega.
Boyega, his star on the rise with the success of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, wasn’t simply interested in acting in his next project. He felt that if he would give the time and energy necessary to be on set, then he would want to serve as an on-set producer. We were intrigued to learn more!
“I had set up my own production company and went to Hollywood to introduce myself. One of the scheduled meetings was at Legendary, with Mary Parent and Cale Boyter. We talked about various projects, but at one point Mary said ‘We’re looking to do a sequel to Pacific Rim. Would you be interested in taking a look at a few things?’
“I said ‘yes, of course’ and we went into the room next door where they had this incredible concept art on display, depicting me in this incredibly designed suit,” he continues. “It was a fully developed pitch with Cale showing me all the amazing new elements for the film, featuring me.” He laughs, “They cornered me, I have to say!”
On his character, Boyega expands: “Jake’s personality is nuanced and conflicted. He grew up in the shadow of his father, Stacker, and he’s battled with living up to the family name. He had aspirations to be a Jaeger pilot, and began training at the PPDC Academy, but they were halted after a confrontation with Stacker led him to rebel and follow a dangerous path. What follows that is his journey to becoming a hero.”
Boyega wanted Jake to possess an element of Stacker in terms of presence, energy and authority, but to be someone very different; for audiences to recognize the rebel in him that Stacker didn’t agree with. “That’s something that I decided to create based on how I saw myself when I was 16 and 17—a cocky kid with a little bit of mismanagement.”
The multi-talent welcomed his dual rule over the course of the massive production. “In my previous films, I was just an actor,” Boyega says. “Now I’d be a producer as well, and I loved the challenge of having to live up to that form of leadership, co-producing alongside a studio that I admire, acting in a fantastic role, and working with Steven - someone I’ve wanted to work with after his incredible work on (the TV shows) Spartacus and Daredevil.”
“One of the reasons why he is so great is because he’s collaborative, and his notes are accurate to character,” continues Boyega. “I’ve been blessed in my career to meet directors who have a great balance between technical knowledge and artistic knowledge, and Steven has a way of directing to make it all feel seamless. It felt like we worked as one. He’s fantastic.”
With his producer’s hat on Boyega brought in acclaimed stunt artist Liang Yang onto the film, with whom he’d first worked on Star Wars: The Force Awakens, to advise on the fight sequences. He decided to think in terms of not just how humans move, but also the newly acrobatic and agile Jaegers. Boyega says: “We wanted to make sure that we could show that these skills are a very significant development from what was done in the first film. So, we brought on Liang, who is an expert in martial arts, to take a look at the pre-visualisations. Once Liang got a hand on the pre-visualisations, he built on top of the fantastic ideas that Steve had. Liang had a great collaboration with the visual effects team, and a lot of the sequences in the confrontation scenes will shock the audience.”
It certainly seems that the dual role of star and producer while presenting complex challenges for Boyega, proved to be a great experience. “Being a producer was interesting because any decision I helped make outside the character affected the role. When it came to casting the other actors, when it came to set pieces, action sequences, dialogue, it was all a jigsaw puzzle in which I had to make decisions and give opinions to support the character I felt needed to be created.”
Pacific Rim : Uprising opens at Showcase on March 23
Pacific Rim Uprising opens at Showcase on March 23
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