Thanks to Star Wars, John Boyega is becoming one busy man. While he’s at work on Episode VIII with director Rian Johnson, the actor is set to star with Emma Watson and Tom Hanks in James Pansoldt’s The Circle, with James McAvoy and Ben Kingsley in Watership Down, and he’ll play Idris Elba’s on-screen son in the Pacific Rim sequel. Boyega adds another enticing project to that list as today bring’s word of his involvement in Kathryn Bigelow’s film about the Detroit riots.
The film, which is still untitled and without a distributor, is Bigelow’s first feature film since helming 2012’s Oscar-winning Zero Dark Thirty. Plot details are currently unknown, though a press release for Boyega’s casting describes the work as “a crime drama set against the backdrop of Detroit’s devastating riots that took place over five haunting summer days in 1967. The film explores systemic racism in urban Detroit.”
Boyega also shared news of his casting on social media, tweeting an historical black-and-white photograph.
I’ve teamed up with Kathryn Bigalow for a movie based on the Detroit riots in 1967. #12thstreet
— John Boyega (@JohnBoyega) June 21, 2016
Dubbed the 12th Street Riot, the historic incident began because of a police raid on an unlicensed after-hours bar and soon escalated into one of the most destructive riots in U.S. history because of violent confrontations with patrons. Then governor George W. Romney eventually ordered the Michigan Army National Guard into the city, and by the end 43 people died with more than 1,000 others injured.
The film is based on an original screenplay by Mark Boal, who previously wrote Zero Dark Thirty and Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker. He also happens to be writing 2017’s film adaptation of the Uncharted video game. The Detroit riot film is eyeing a release next year to align with the moment’s 50th anniversary.
It’s interesting to consider the career path of Boyega in association with Daisy Ridley. Both broke out at the same time with the same film, though Ridley arguably has the bigger role, which is getting bigger still as Star Wars goes on. However, Boyega is landing far more high-profile gigs than his co-star. The only other major feature film role beyond Star Wars that Ridley has lined up so far is the Hamlet reimagining, Ophelia. Is one just taking more initiative, or is there something else at play here?