John Boyega hasn’t been in very many films yet, but the ones he has starred in have been pretty dark: In sci-fi comedy Attack The Block, his 2011 debut, Boyega played a teen on the run from murderous aliens; in 2013’s drama Half Of A Yellow Sun, he played a young man struggling desperately to survive the Nigerian Civil War. Still, as Boyega told GQ this week, it was his upcoming breakout role in Star Wars: The Force Awakens that brought him to tears.
“When I read the script I cried, and I’m not really a big crier,” admitted Boyega. “I’m more like a frog-in-the-throat kind of guy, who’ll try to hold it in and make sure I don’t let it all out.”
Though Boyega couldn’t say much about the movie’s plot or his character Finn’s arc, he did share that Finn’s story is similar to that of our favorite Jedi: “Finn is dope. His story is so epic. It’s a story that’s never been seen before, but it also mirrors the stories of Luke Skywalker and Han Solo. And he’s quirky and charismatic and funny. For me, he was the best character in the script.”
Boyega also revealed that it took nearly seven months of auditions to land the part—“It was like The X Factor but without the TV show around it”—and that filming itself was just as intense. “They’re heavy, [the lightsabers], and there’s a lot of running involved. I was trained on a high incline treadmill so when it came to it I could sprint around the desert in a leather jacket,” Boyega said, then quipped,“They should do a Star Wars weight loss program.”
Star Wars: The Force Awakens hits theaters Dec. 18.