I was at work last night tending bar like normal, when I look up at one of the televisions and see John Boyega in an upcoming movie called Detroit. I watched what I could of the trailer, and it looked like a promising movie. All of a sudden, an idea triggered in the back of my mind. Bear with me while I try to explain this, and hopefully we all come out of this with a better understanding of my thought.
John Boyega was more or less an unknown before Star Wars Episode VII. He had done a few smaller movies, but from what I can gather from his IMDB page, he mostly did small roles in stuff like Law and Order and 24: Live Another Day. But when the new Star Wars movie premiered in December of 2015, John Boyega became a known worldwide star. Not only is he slated for the next Star Wars movie coming out this year, but we have to assume he’ll also be in episode nine, unless he dies in this upcoming one.
Now, given that he’s already doing (or done) the movie Detroit, there is a small chance he didn’t audition for it. I am not going to say that John is not a great actor, because from what I saw in The Force Awakens, the man clearly has great acting chops. I very much enjoyed his performance as Finn, and I want to reiterate that I believe he’s a great actor. Like I said, he probably didn’t audition for his role in that movie.
He is also in the upcoming Tom Hanks and Emma Watson film The Circle as well as the new Pacific Rim movie.
So here is my question: had John Boyega not been cast in the new Star Wars movies, would he have been cast in these other movies, let alone ever actually discovered? I know of many actors that spend the majority of their life making their living doing commercials, industrial films, and small television roles. There isn’t anything wrong with this, but this is how they will live out their life as an actor. John Boyega seemed like he was on that very same road before Star Wars came along.
I’m sure we’ve all seen behind the scenes footage or listened to the director’s commentary on a DVD where they said the role was written for certain actors in mind. In fact, I’m relatively certain that many big name actors like Tom Hanks, Harrison Ford, Julia Roberts, and others have not auditioned for a movie in many, many years. Again, there is nothing wrong this, because all of these people are phenomenal actors with some influential roles in the last few decades.
All of that brings me to the entire point of the ideas contained within this post. How many actors are out in the world that change the very fabric of the acting world? How many actors are living out of their car, struggling every day to make ends meet that could give us an Oscar worthy performance? We may never know simply because they are never in the right place at the right time.
Directors, writers, producers, and casting agents have some of the highest form of powers that exist. They can literally tell somebody they are too fat, too tall, too black, not muscular enough, and a myriad of other prejudiced things because they are looking for something highly specific for a role. Unfortunately, these actors, if their hearts aren’t made of stone, will begin to doubt themselves.
Now, many celebrities will give the heartfelt speeches of “Always follow your dreams” and “If you can think it, you can do it. You can do anything you set your mind to!” I don’t mean to belittle or demean these messages, but of course they believe these things because they are currently experiencing a sense of nirvana. They are not living out of their cars, or serving tables at a coffee shop dreaming of the phone call for a big audition. They don’t cry themselves to sleep some nights because they just want to become a big actor but they’ve been turned down so many times it’s beginning to take an emotional toll.
I am not here to criticize famous actors or their lifestyles. They have all, for the most part, earned their livelihoods, and given that I am still a struggling college student, I don’t have much room to talk about the luscious lives of others. And I will most likely watch John Boyega’s newer movies as they start to roll in.
But I can’t, in good conscious, be okay with all of the struggling actors in the world that have not been in the right place at the right time. John Boyega will continue to be offered movie roles without an audition. But Average Joe out in California, no matter how good or bad of an actor he may be, will do ten more years of auditions while serving coffee at a Starbucks.