Star Wars actor John Boyega issued an apology after making some questionable statements in a recent interview with Variety.
Fans felt that he was undermining co-star Kelly Marie Tran's experiences with racism and misogyny online.
Variety asked Boyega about his very active social media presence.
Since the start of his acting career with the 2011 film Attack the Block, Boyega has used social media to connect with fans. After landing the role of Finn in Disney's latest Star Wars trilogy, millions of followers on both his Instagram and Twitter have enjoyed his behind the scenes posts.
He began talking about the impact that social media had on contemporary Star Wars fans.
"And then I think about this the first "Star Wars" franchise in the era of social media. You've never had another trilogy at the height of social media like this and so me that's also interesting. It's making a different experience."
The interviewer then brought up his Asian co-star Kelly Marie Tran.
Tran was was brutally attacked by online trolls with racist and sexist vitriol after starring in Star Wars: The Last Jedi in 2017. The posts took a toll on Tran's emotional health and she eventually quit social media entirely. Daisy Ridley had a similar experience with online misogyny and also dropped off social media.
Boyega seemed to imply that such negativity comes with the territory of being famous.
"Being in this position, you just understand the masses, how the masses think, you know. Through social media, we get to engage, we get to have fun."
"But at the same time, for those who are not mentally strong, you are weak to believe in every single thing that you read. That's, you know, it is what it is. I don't know, for me anyway, when I see that [backlash], I'm like, well, that's actually not true."
He went on to say that ignoring haters is worth it for the sake of true fans.
"But to engage, to connect with the fans who otherwise wouldn't get a day to day experience, especially during things like the press tour, and behind the scenes stuff, is always good."
The phrase "those who are not mentally strong" raised some eyebrows.
Boyega apologized and explained that he wasn't specifically thinking of Tran when he answered.
In no way was I referring to Kelly when I made my comments although the interviewer mentioned her given the topic.… https://t.co/WiND2Qzh20— John Boyega (@John Boyega)1576134343.0
"In no way was I referring to Kelly when I made my comments although the interviewer mentioned her given the topic. I was really speaking from my own perspective throughout this franchise. Sometimes I've felt strong and sometimes I've felt weak. Badly worded though. I apologize."
Fans were happy that he owned up to his statements.
@JohnBoyega Thank you for clarifying.— Jessica Plummer (@Jessica Plummer)1576134502.0
@JohnBoyega Thank you for addressing this. The press tour for alot of us has been really rocky and we just want to… https://t.co/5yrsSS5Vvo— 🌻Sυɳƚαƙҽɾ🌻 (@🌻Sυɳƚαƙҽɾ🌻)1576134770.0
@JohnBoyega thank you for speaking up. please know that we love you so much!!— mar’i 6 (@mar’i 6)1576162087.0
Some people believe his words were twisted and pointed out that he defended Tran in the past.
@JohnBoyega Don't worry, John. A lot of people know that's not what you meant. We can tell that the media was twist… https://t.co/tiIR3WEoOR— The Fandalorian (@The Fandalorian)1576161271.0
@JohnBoyega I love you John and for me it was very clear you were speaking from your experience. youve always defen… https://t.co/Pjd8g4DwQF— clara (@clara)1576134552.0
@JohnBoyega Those of us that have been paying attention knew what you were saying. Carry on being a great guy, Joh… https://t.co/ITc1LvinEm— Mara Jade Skywalker (@Mara Jade Skywalker)1576151507.0
@JohnBoyega we understand that your words were clearly misinterpreted and we love you ! 💗— ✧*:･ﾟ| mando spoilers (@✧*:･ﾟ| mando spoilers)1576135108.0
The press tour for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker hasn't been going smoothly for the franchise's cast.
Lead actress Daisy Ridley, who plays Rey in the trilogy, was criticized after denying in an interview with The Guardian that she was privileged compared to other acting hopefuls. Ridley comes from a wealthy family with connections in the film industry.
J.J. Abrams, the film's director, also made disparaging comments about The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson's controversial approach to the movie:
"It's a bit of a meta approach to the story. I don't think that people go to Star Wars to be told, 'This doesn't matter"'
As mentioned previously, Tran is not the only Star Wars actress who has been targeted on social media.
Back in 2014, Daisy Ridley vowed to never use social media again after being harassed by people who didn't want Star Wars to have a female lead.
"I don't really think bad vibes should have the sun shone on them...I'm 24. I have a lot of growing up to do. I have to deal with loads of stuff, myself personally. For that to be projected with millions of people watching, that is like a bit of an extra pressure."