Meet The Man Who Set The Internet On Fire As “The Black Stormtrooper” (Video)

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Nearly a year ago, when the first official trailer for Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens was released, it was met with the exact type of explosive reaction one might expect to accompany the latest installment of one of the most beloved franchises in cinematic history. However, a great deal of that fervor was directed to the appearance of what appeared to be a Black Stormtrooper. For some purists, the shot was controversial because, according to Star Wars lore, Stormtroopers were clones of a character named Jango Fett, who was played by a white male actor named Temuera Derek Morrison. As CNN reports, “later in the storyline, when [the Black Stormtrooper] would’ve lived, Stormtroopers were recruited from general populations — making a Stormtrooper of any race certainly feasible.” Beyond those rabidly faithful to the rules of Star Wars mythology, however, there was an initial undercurrent and then widespread tidal wave of racism, centered not only around the Black Stormtrooper, but Star Wars’ increased multicultural look, generally.

John Boyega, the man behind the mask, addressed the controversy last year, shortly after the trailer that shocked the world was released, saying that people should “get used to it.” Now, with the controversy ostensibly subsiding and anticipation for the film’s release (12/18) heightening, Boyega is beginning the intensive promo circuit, and revealing insights into who he is as a man, and what it means to be a part of Star Wars.

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, he talked about the moment he learned from JJ Abrams, the film’s director, that he was about to become the new star of Star Wars. He also reveals details about his character, working with Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia), growing up with Star Wars, his favorite character and more. Take a look.

Related: The Black Stormtrooper Caused a Real Stir. This Might Too (Video)