You'd think someone in John Boyega's position would still be in a daze. It's been just over two years since his profile skyrocketed with Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and again last year with its sequel, The Last Jedi. Both films are now in the top 10 list of the highest-grossing films of all time. But it's evident within moments of speaking to the 25-year-old Brit that his feet are planted firmly on the ground and that he's just thrilled to be doing the job he loves.

This year Boyega is shouldering another blockbuster sci-fi franchise – this time as actor and producer. Through Upperroom Entertainment Limited, the company he founded in 2016, Boyega co-produced Pacific Rim: Uprising, the sequel to Guillermo del Toro's 2013 monster epic. Working two jobs on a film with a reported US$150 million budget ($205.6m) may seem like a daunting prospect, but Boyega was up for the challenge.

"[It was] a natural progression, but also a progression that was supported by some really great people," he says. "I wasn't working alone, so that made the process a lot easier. I felt very comfortable being a part of it."

For his first turn as a producer/actor, Boyega says he had to focus on keeping the two jobs distinct from each other. "The performance has to stay clear from [producing], but it does mean that the prepping for the role has to be much more intense," he says. "I just made sure that I was on point with the lines learned, the character learned, so that if anything came up that needed my attention as a producer, I'd be able to step out of that role and hop into another.


"I'm disappointed that I didn't get two chairs," he jokes, "but we'll try for the next one."

Pacific Rim: Uprising picks up the narrative 10 years after the events of the first film, with Boyega playing Jake Pentecost, the son of Idris Elba's character in the original. When a monstrous new threat emerges, Pentecost is reluctantly swept into the fight alongside a new generation of robot fighters known as cadets.

Though the Pacific Rim and Star Wars franchises share similar DNA, the roles of Jake and Finn could not be more different. Aside from the fact that Uprising allows Boyega to adopt an accent not dissimilar to his own, Jake's confident, comedic swagger is a far cry from Finn's wide-eyed accidental hero.

"Jake has to do something and has no choice but to fulfil a position that he doesn't want to, and has to find the true meaning of the fight he's in – kind of like Finn, but a lot of it is by accident, a lot of it he's trying to figure out," says Boyega.

"When we were in early talks, I was adamant that I wanted these two sci-fi heroes to be significantly different so that if you had them in the same room, you would know which one was which. That makes it another new adventure for an actor to take on."

Uprising has the markings of what blockbusters can and should look like in 2018, with diversity front and centre in its cast. A wide range of ethnicities are represented among the young cadets, lead by the ass-kicking newcomer Cailee Spaeny, as well as the adults, with as many women taking on positions of power as men. Boyega says this kind of progression is long overdue, but he's excited by the new direction.

"It needs to be on a steady rise, so it can't stop, it can't just fuse out into nothing," he says. "I'm very happy to see that more people are getting a chance to be part of this industry and helping to diversify and bring original and fresh ideas into the entertainment realm.

"It should have been done yonks ago, but here we are now, and it's all about supporting the process that we're going through right now."

Boyega laughs when I mention the sad, unfortunate story of the man who made a 46-minute, "de-feminised" edit of The Last Jedi that removed all the women.

"I mean, that was just stupid. I think we should get to a point where we should really just ignore the minority when it comes to that," he says. "When we comment on it, it becomes bigger than it truly is. They don't deserve an audience."

Who: John Boyega
What: Pacific Rim: Uprising
When: In cinemas March 22