Despite the media’s hesitation toward two white filmmakers creating “Detroit,” John Boyega knew Bigelow and Boll would do the story justice.
“According to her, it was not only a creative choice but a moral choice with her given platform, being the only [woman] in that realm in that category to do that,” said Boyega.
“In watching the film, I don’t feel that she exploited that story in any way.”
But the idea of two white people making a film about black people did cross his mind. “I can’t lie, I was thinking the same thing. I was like, she better have some black folk,” he said.
Boyega then discussed how open and attentive Bigelow was throughout the process, always asking questions rather than making demands.
And as he sat for a question-and-answer session after the screening of “Detroit,” Boyega humored the emotional audience with his quick wit and humorous remarks while also giving them insight into his preparation for “Detroit,” the birth of his new production company and his focus on being a part of films that comment on society and make people think.
“You can watch something and be entertained, but it’s also important in our day-to-day lives to take a little something from it,” he said.
In terms of preparing for “Detroit,” Boyega was fortunate enough to work with the real Melvin Dismukes, who he plays in the movie. Dismukes even offered to be on set with him if that’s what Boyega needed.
Boyega focused on getting to know Dismukes first before jumping right into asking about the night of the Algiers Motel incident depicted in the film.
“I didn’t just want to ask him, okay, cool, who got killed first?”
Instead, Boyega spent time with Dismukes figuring out his personality, asking about his childhood and really perfecting his specific Southern accent.
As he got to know him, Boyega also grew more defensive over people questioning and wondering why Dismukes didn’t do more the night of the incident.
“That’s the effect of too many Marvel films,” he said. “Before race, before any of those things, you are a human being. I understood it more from that perspective rather than him getting the shotgun, putting it to the guy’s head and wanting to be Liam Neeson.”
And despite the film being about racism in the ’60s and police brutality, Boyega mentioned wanting everyone to go and see it, explaining that it isn’t just isolated and meant for one group of people or one specific time. He also explained that in this political climate and with what’s going on in different industries everyone is being affected.
“It’s a story, especially for young people. It’s important for us to understand that in order to cure something you need to know the root of it,” he said.
What’s next for Boyega?
“I forgot about ‘Star Wars,'” he said, causing the audience to crack up.
Boyega highlighted how focused he has been on “Detroit” and “Pacific Rim,” his production company, Upper Room Entertainment’s first film. He also spoke excitedly about getting to choose what kind of projects he works on and what that freedoms means to him.
“Most actors have to wait for the phone to ring, but for me now I feel like there’s much more of a time to be proactive.”
Written by Asli Shebe.