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Breaking: John Boyega hopes film will give voice to veterans

Star Wars actor John Boyega has spoken out about the “learning curve” he went through for his latest film and how he found himself giving a voice to American war veterans.

Breaking is available on Digital Download on 27 March, 2023.

Video transcript

FREDA COOPER: It's such a powerful piece of cinema and such a wonderful performance from you, as well.

JOHN BOYEGA: Thank you. Appreciate it.

FREDA COOPER: It's a true story, of course, and it's one that I'm sure people in the UK won't have come across. I wondered how much you learnt about the treatment of military veterans in America when you were doing your research.

JOHN BOYEGA: A lot. Definitely, there was a constant state of comparison between our vets back in the UK and then, obviously, in the States, because some of the stuff that we were finding out was really, really sad, especially in terms of these individuals that's had to give so much, and come back home and to struggle with integration back into society, and that was definitely a learning curve for me. And that specific story of Brian, as you rightly assumed, I hadn't heard nothing about it. So the shock of it all kind of came at me when I read the script for the first time.

FREDA COOPER: [INAUDIBLE] group of people who are overlooked, if not sometimes ignored.

JOHN BOYEGA: Yeah. No, definitely. And I witnessed and saw that when "Breaking" came out and I went around for a few times, there was a few vets that came up to me and had mentioned seeing the film and had mentioned that they had had the same experience. Abi's father, our director, her own dad had also been through that experience.

So all of a sudden, someone that doesn't come from any military family of any kind that was exposed to another perspective that, to be honest, I didn't quite know about, was quite ignorant to. And that's what's great about our acting, you can just open up into all these different worlds and different perspectives. And yeah, it was what we needed to be able to do this movie.

FREDA COOPER: So was there anything that the family wanted you to bring out particularly in your portrayal? Or were they quite happy to just leave it in your hands?

JOHN BOYEGA: Definitely, there was a trust there. You guys are the performers, you guys [INAUDIBLE], do your thing, just make sure you're integral to his story. [INAUDIBLE], she mentioned his voice, just to make sure not to lose out how soft spoken he was, because I think, stereotypically, you hear a narrative like that on paper, you assume violence, you assume someone that has the ability to do that could actually be violent and wants to carry out violence, whereas and this is quite nuanced story. And his voice was a thing for her, make sure that when he's soft, he is soft. And I definitely took that into account, even to the extent that I'd be our director had a code where we would say be soft Brian, OK, now you're angry Brian, because he would go through these different emotions. So it really, really helped having the family [INAUDIBLE].