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Want to know who Finn’s manga hero is, or which anime character shares a voice with Rey?

With the opening of Star Wars: The Force Awakens last week, movie-goers across Japan got to see the start of franchise newcomers Rey and Finn’s adventures. But the two heroes didn’t just come to theater screens in Japan, they also showed up in person as their actors, Daisy Ridley and John Boyega, visited Japan to talk about the new film with the Japanese press, including RocketNews24.

We took part in an interview session with the pair prior to the movie’s premiere, in which they talk about their experience working on The Force Awakens and their deep admiration for Japanese pop culture.

Interviewer: The dynamic between Rey and fin is something we haven’t seen in past Star Wars films. It’s not a master and apprentice relationship…or a relationship that has been cultivated over time, [but] you help each over the course of the film.

Ridley: We both represent a friendship to each other that neither of us have had before. We’ve never had someone speak to us like an equal person. I think it’s a wonderful dynamic.

Boyega: There’s an instant chemistry between the two characters, and it isn’t really explained why, not even to us as actors. As soon as Finn sees danger, based on his past, I would expect him to just run in the opposite direction…but he grabs her hand, you know, wants her to be safe. So perhaps it’s a version of the Force bringing us together, or it’s just because we have a natural chemistry.

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Interviewer: Which of the past Star Wars films or characters are your favorites?

Ridley: My favorite is Return of the Jedi because I love the Ewoks. But when I see them on toys and on T-shirts, they’re really, really creepy, so now I’m, like, changing my mind.

But my favorite character is Yoda, because I think he’s funny and brilliant. And working with puppeteers, just the fact that an inanimate thing can be brought to life by someone moving their hand, I just think it’s amazing.

Boyega: I like Empire Strikes Back. That’s my favorite. Reason being because it’s just the best, hands down. Everybody knows that.

My favorite character is Han Solo, because I really like characters who represent human beings in sci-fi pics…There’s this more human, more like “chilled” approach to everything, and these characters remind the audience of themselves. Those are the characters that I feel are much more loved than the others, because they run when we would run, they are brave when we would feel brave, and they’re…a reflection of humanity.

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Interviewer: In the movie there are a lot of influences of…Japanese culture, [like] the samurai spirit and what not. For you two, what is [your] impression of Japan?

Boyega: I really love Japan. Growing up I was exposed to manga comics, and that was my first exposure to Japanese culture, especially in the spiritual sense.

I love, and today, still read the comics, and one of my favorite [fictional] characters: is Japanese: Naruto Uzumaki. He is kind of like Finn, because he is a character that wants to lead and has a dream, but doesn’t necessarily know how to go about it, and doesn’t have the right skill set…I love [how Japanese entertainment can] capture an underdog story, and I root for underdogs.

Ridley: Last time I was in Japan, I was talking about Studio Ghibli and about how much I love the films of both Miyazaki and Takahata, and just when I left, I got a call, and there was one film that had not been dubbed in English, called Only Yesterday.

I just did the English version [voicing main character Taeko], so obviously the Japanese version is always going to be the best, but for me that is such an honor, because I’ve always loved Japan. To be able to be a tiny, tiny part of Japanese [cinematic] history, [connected to] a legendary film and studio, that is really, really special.

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Interviewer: One of the best things about J.J. [Abrams] as a filmmaker is that he is right by the camera and really there for the actors. He’s as close as he can be to the cast when he’s directing…He’s lauded as a filmmaker, as a storyteller…so [could you] talk a little bit about how special he is as a director?

Ridley: There wasn’t really a moment…that I couldn’t see him, or I couldn’t feel him…He was always there. I was incredibly nervous to take part in this, so to work with someone who’s so encouraging, and funny all the time…Even when we’re doing incredibly emotional things and it’s very respectful, there’s always that humor that carries people along and make everyone on the set feel like they’re really worth something, like they’re really doing a good job.

Boyega: I think the best directors know how to collaborate with an actor. As much as you have the template of a script, and the template of your ideas, you are open to the fact that an actor…fills in the role and brings in their own experience and their own skill set to the particular part.

J.J.’s really, really good at that, and also he speaks to…the subconscious side of what gives you an intention for a scene. J.J. really knows how to give you notes. It could be complicated, and it could be very simple. For example, I remember when he was just like “What is the intention for Finn in this scene?” and told me to ask those questions to myself. And then in another scene, he just came and said “John, can you close your mouth? Because it looks better.”

Appearance in individual shots aside, we’re happy and thankful to Boyega and Ridley for opening their mouths and talking with us. Hopefully they’ll be back in Japan when Star Wars: Episode 8 is finally released and we’ll get the chance to chat again, or maybe join up with J.J. to catch an AKB48 concert.

Photos ©RocketNews24
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