John Boyega reveals how a boatman in Nigeria tried to take advantage of him
Nigerian born British actor John Boyega has shared an unpleasant experience he went through in his native country on his way to a movie shoot.
The Star Wars actor spoke at length with GQ Magazine recently, dishing on some of his encounters as a movie star, recalling how he was almost stranded at sea in Nigeria eight years ago.
Boyega was 20 years old then and fresh from his film debut in Attack the Block, and back in his ancestral motherland to make another appearance in the screen adaptation of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s book Half of a Yellow Sun.
A driver had deposited him in an unfamiliar dock so he could make his way back on set. It was supposed to be a journey of 45 minutes, making his way from the port city of Calabar to the production hub in a nearby riverside outpost called Creek Town.
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While out on the open waters, the boatman suddenly cut the engine and turned his attention to Boyega, seizing the moment as an opportunity to make more cash from the actor.
Boyega and Chiwetel Ejiofor in HALF OF A YELLOW SUN
According to Boyega, the boatman laid out his request in simple terms; if the movie star wanted him to restart the engine, he would need to hand over some money first.
“I felt very fearful,” says Boyega, remembering the expectant glances of the other passengers, the lapping sound of the water, the tense sway of the becalmed boat. “But I think it was the first time that I went into fight-or-flight mode and was just like, ‘OK, well, both of us are going to die today, then, because I’m definitely not going to back down.’ I told him, ‘I’m going to pay you the money that’s owed, but we’ll both be dying in the sea here if you think I’m going out like this or that you can get more from me.’”
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Thankfully, it never came to a physical confrontation because at that moment, Boyega heard the approaching sound of a police boat manned by AK-47-wielding officers sent by the movie’s production crew to look for him. Boyega revealed that the boatman quickly soiled his pants at their approach.
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Though the above incident left a bitter memory, it etched something into the being of the young actor; remaining resolute and being determined to cave in when he knows he is doing the right thing.