John Boyega’s eye teeth are distinctive, you know? His sharp canines make him look like a perpetual schoolboy: cute, a little mischievous, very smart. They gleam when he smiles – almost always slowly. It is a smile that can convey danger and cunning.
Like many, I first saw the 23-year-old actor in Joe Cornish’s directorial debut, Attack The Block, with aliens crash-landing on an inner-city council estate, and there wasn’t a whole lot to grin about. But Boyega’s performance was memorable – an inner-city boy let down by the system, revelling in the chance finally to be a hero.
It’s worth noting that this isn’t Boyega’s personal narrative. In April, the Telegraph ran a profile of a boy done good, the son of a Nigerian preacher who grew up on the mean streets of Peckham. Boyega responded with a tweet that simply said, “Inaccurate. Stereotypical. NOT my story”.
He seems savvy, aware of his place in the industry and trying to make it work on his own terms. But he’s not dour: this is a guy who joked about his dad making him do the dishes when he wouldn’t give away spoilers to his new film, Star Wars: The Force Awakens. See? Cute.
Boyega, now immortalised on a Royal Mail stamp, is going to be everywhere soon. The new Star Wars film is out this December and, as Finn, a black stormtrooper, Boyega has already put a few noses out of joint. His reply? An Instagram post ending with: “To whom it may concern… Get used to it. :)” Couldn’t have put it better myself, mate.