John Boyega on Character-Building and the Art of Acting

His characters are always varied. Boyega delivers a famously broad range, from sci-fi warrior to Blaxploitation hustler to historical king and back again. No matter what, he explains, he looks beyond the parameters of what’s known about the person he’s playing and fills in the gaps. “There are some directors that ask you, Who is your character? Where does your character come from? What have they been through?”

He considers how he brings his own thinking into the process, exploring his moments off-screen, out of character in GQ’s film In Between Acts. “Sometimes it comes from your imagination,” he says. “If it’s a biopic, you kind of have to stick to the script, but most of the time it’s an actor’s imagination that layers a character.”

“You always have to remember that you are not the character, but you have to get to know the character. Not all characters are easy to get to know. Some characters are hard. They’ve been through things. Their stories are complicated. Sometimes the writer has done that on purpose.” Wearing a waffle jumper in burnt caramel with matching tailored trousers, all from oasi-collection/?utm_source=gq&utm_medium=ntv&utm_campaign=us_en_oasicashmere_fw23&utm_content=web_article&pageNumber=0&sort=featured” class=”external-link” data-event-click=”{"element":"ExternalLink","outgoingURL":""}” href=””>Zegna’s Oasi Cashmere FW23 collection, he plays his parts with ease. In front of the camera, Boyega has moments of self-reflection, jocular motions, and confident outbursts.

Although his improvisation appears effortless, playing a role is most enriching for the actor when he is able to delve into the script and envisage the character’s life. “I get to know my part,” he says. “I get to know the other actors’ parts. I work through the story until I really know it, from back to front. So if anybody asks me, I’ll be able to tell him where my character is, what my character has been through before the script is even written.”

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