This January, a group of fellow journalists and I traveled to Australia to visit the set of Pacific Rim Uprising, the upcoming follow-up to Guillermo del Toro’s bombastic tribute to classic monster movies that pit massive fighting robots against even more imposing monsters in showdowns just as awesome as you’d expect. The sequel, which will be piloted by Daredevil’s Steven DeKnight, is switching up the original cast for a handful of younger faces, with Scott Eastwood, newcomer Cailee Spaeny, Tian Jing and perhaps most exciting, John Boyega leading the new revolution.
On set, Boyega has been through the ringer. Since he stepped on set hours ago, he’s been running through a grueling action sequence unfolding in a Jaeger Conn-Pod. Just watching him is tiring, but as he saunters over to us in between takes, he couldn’t be more energized as he excitedly fields questions about the upcoming sequel. During the chat, he gave us inside into his character Jake Pentecost and his relationship to Rinko Kikuchi’s fan-favorite Mako, how the Jaegers of the sequel compare to those in the original, how different Jake is from his uber-charming Star Wars character, and his plans for a brand new superhero franchise: starring himself.
Check out the full interview below.
Can you start off by telling us about Jake?
JOHN BOYEGA: Yeah. Jake is Stacker Pentecost’s son, who grew up in the dark period of the first movie. He kind of chose a different path from being a Jaeger pilot, and decided to go into criminal activity, the exchange of Jaegers and other illegal stuff. He became like a stealer and a rogue, and he’s finally been given the chance to come back. To him it doesn’t feel like a chance at first. But it is a chance to come back and redeem himself after leaving a legacy, and trying to forget about his father and his heroes. He’s always lived in the shadow of his father’s achievements. And it’s his chance lead the young cadets and face off against this new threat that is the Kaijus. That’s Jake in a nutshell.
Where you able to take some reference from Idris Elba’s performance in the first movie?
BOYEGA: Yeah, definitely. I think naturally, when I watched Pacific Rim, he was for me the standout character. You just felt a sense of history from him, a leadership. How did this guy get to this position? How did this guy get to this position in this whole organization? Why is he so stern? Why is he so protective over Mako? He has a heart as well. He’s a grown leader. For me, it’s about embodying that. But just get a kid who has been raised by a father like that and take some of those traits, but doesn’t get it. And then you get Jake.
Can you talk about Jake’s relationship to Mako?
BOYEGA: Mako’s like Jake’s sister, someone who was brought into the family. They would have played together, trained together, and they were good friends. But it seems Jake has struggled with acceptance. That she was dad’s favorite, and dad’s Golden Girl, and she achieved what Jake unfortunately couldn’t. You meet them at a point where there’s a blatant difference. It’s kind of like when you leave college and you meet up with one of your friends again. And let’s say, you’ve got the great job, being the bloody journalist, and they’re working at In-N-Out Burger. And you’re going, “Oh, what are you doing at the moment?…Oh great great great great.” Because that kind of relationship – talking about the emotional darkness about her – just always achieving. Stacker loved her. “She’s my girl. I don’t want her to get into war. I don’t want my daughter to get into war with anybody.” So that is something they have to face off on. He doesn’t really like her at first. It’s a bit of a harsh thing. But they love each other at the end of the day, and you see that in this film.