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John Boyega On 'The Woman King': We Are More Than Just Hitting Surface Level Points Of Black History

John Boyega On 'The Woman King': We Are More Than Just Hitting Surface Level Points Of Black History

British star John Boyega says he signed on for Viola Davis-led "The Woman King" as he believed the film explores an important chapter in Black history beyond "surface level".

John Boyega
John Boyega Instagram/ @johnboyega

British star John Boyega says he signed on for Viola Davis-led "The Woman King" as he believed the film explores an important chapter in Black history beyond "surface level".

The Gina Prince-Bythewood directorial, about an all-female warrior unit who protected the African kingdom of Dahomey in the 19th century, features Boyega as King Ghezo.

As much as the action sequences will enthral the audiences, the "nuanced and detailed look" at the Black history is not to be missed out, the "Star Wars" alum said.

"I would tell the audience that it's much more of a nuanced detailed take that goes into literally the journey of characters and their emotions as they change over time as these events kind of happen to them.

"We're doing more than just hitting the surface level points that we know of this kind of history. We're going deeper and deeper," Boyega told PTI in a virtual interview.

"The Woman King" primarily focuses on Davis' character General Nanisca, the leader of the all-female group of warriors called the Agojie and how she trains the next generation of warriors to fight their enemies.

The upcoming film may have a period feel to it but the themes it tackles are contemporary, said Boyega, also known for featuring in films such as "Attack the Block", "Detroit", "Breaking" and Steve McQueen's acclaimed anthology series "Small Axe".

"It explores different perspectives and some very hard-hitting points around femininity, togetherness, family and war. There are so many stories in there and there's so many side stories with all the different characters and the ensemble that we have," the actor said.

Boyega revealed one of the reasons for saying yes to the project was the chance to collaborate with Davis, the Oscar-winning actor of "Fences".

"I wanted to just collaborate with Viola Davis, because I'd watched her work coming up. I saw that as a great opportunity... She was fantastic to work with. I was really excited to just come, sit and collaborate with her on the few scenes that we have," he added.

The actor was particularly amazed by Davis' "selfless devotion" to art.

Bythewood, who previously made 2000's "Love & Basketball", "The Secret Life of Bees" (2008) and Charlize Theron-led "The Old Guard" in 2020, was another name Boyega ticked off his career wish list with "The Woman King".

"Gina personally reached out to me, which I felt very flattered by because I respect her work and then it was the opportunity of working with Black women.

"In my opinion, some of the best Black women in the industry have shown that they can do whatever they want within this field. I just wanted to be a part of their journey also," he said.

"The Woman King" also features Lashana Lynch, Thuso Mbedu and Sheila Atim. Bythewood has also penned the screenplay along with Dana Stevens.

The movie, produced by Cathy Schulman, Davis, Julius Tennon and Maria Bello, will be released by Sony Pictures Entertainment India on October 14 in English and Tamil. 

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