Star Wars: The Force Awakens’s own breakout star John Boyega has landed the lead role in Pacific Rim 2.
John Boyega will play the role of the son of Idris Elba’s original Pacific Rim character in the upcoming sequel (via Deadline).
Pacific Rim is the story of the world’s war against the Kaiju, giant monsters who have broken into the upper world from the earth’s crust. The human race has resorted to building huge robotic soldiers, called Jaegers, which they control from the inside, and Idris Elba’s character operated one such Jaeger. He died in the original film while fighting the Kaiju. Boyega is playing his son, so it’s likely he’ll follow in his father’s footsteps and have a Jaeger, as well.
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This news is a huge step for Boyega in his career outside of Star Wars. We’ve seen actors struggle to make it to fame beyond the galaxy far, far away, actors like Mark Hamill and Hayden Christensen. Others, like Harrison Ford, Ewan McGregor, and Natalie Portman either became popular through or were able to continue to land roles in big movies after Star Wars, yet even Portman said she struggled to find work because directors thought she was a bad actress as Padme (via Cinema Blend). There’s something about being in Star Wars that can cause Hollywood to view you as a niche actor or even a bad one (hey, don’t just blame them the performers; George Lucas said he wasn’t good at writing dialogue). But Boyega hasn’t fallen into that trap, at least not yet. And it doesn’t look like he ever will.
I’m excited to see what Boyega can do outside of Star Wars. I haven’t seen the first film he starred in, an obscure flick called Attack the Block, so all I’ve ever seen him in is The Force Awakens. Boyega brought a lot of enthusiasm and humor to Finn, but he will likely have to be more serious in Pacific Rim 2. The original Pacific Rim had a sobering tone, despite being a movie about robots fighting monsters, and Idris Elba’s character in particular was a serious persona (one part of his arc was that he was slowly dying from radiation poisoning). His son will probably have his father’s death as well as his legacy hanging over him, leaving little room for Finn’s sometimes childlike naivete.
But we may see a more serious John Boyega sooner than Pacific Rim 2. Episode VIII already promises to be darker, meaning the levity Finn brought to The Force Awakens will necessarily be toned down. We will also see a more active Finn, if Boyega’s workout updates on Instagram are anything to judge by. Boyega is proving himself to be versatile, however, and he should adapt well to whatever situation and acting job he finds himself in.