China cut Star Wars actor John Boyega out of a cologne commercial that he directed and conceived. The company responsible, British perfume brand Jo Malone, has since apologized to Boyega. The Chinese version of the commercial replaced the actor with Liu Haoran, who is the star of the massively popular Detective Chinatown franchise. Boyega has yet to make a public statement about the ordeal, but he has been very vocal lately, from slamming Disney and Lucasfilm for their handling of the sequel trilogy, to speaking out on social issues and current events.
It's unclear how or even why John Boyega was cut from a commercial that he conceived and directed. Boyega helped to launch an award-winning ad campaign for Jo Malone. The commercials are titled "London Gent," and they also star the actor, though China apparently had other ideas. You can read the public apology in full below.
"We deeply apologize for what, on our end, was a mistake in the local execution of the John Boyega campaign. John is a tremendous artist with great personal vision and direction. The concept for the film was based on John's personal experiences and should not have been replicated. While we immediately took action and removed the local version of the campaign, we recognize that this was painful and that offense was caused. We respect John, and support our partners and fans globally. We are taking this misstep very seriously and we are working together as a brand to do better moving forward."
The "London Gent" campaign won the Fragrance Foundation Virtual Awards 2020 for Best Media Campaign, all thanks to the hard work of John Boyega. The Chinese partners of Jo Malone have not released a statement at this time, though it was more than likely not malicious. The Star Wars franchise isn't as big in China as it is around the rest of the world. Chinese movie goers have even called the cast of the sequel trilogy ugly.
John Boyega recently spoke about his opportunity to help out Jo Malone. The actor said it was a chance to showcase his background. He notes, "There's a mixture of things you see me do in the film, you see me in a professional environment on a film set. Boyega adds, "then with family and it's about breaking free of the concept of 'going back or returning to your roots' but more about the roots existing with this new side of my life. It's not a chapter that stops."
As for John Boyega's beef with Disney and Lucasfilm, it comes down to representation. "What I would say to Disney is do not bring out a Black character, market them to be much more important in the franchise than they are and then have them pushed to the side. It's not good. I'll say it straight up," said Boyega recently. This is a sentiment that many agree with as a lot of Star Wars fans think that Finn's story was wasted. You can check out the original version of the commercial above, thanks to the Jo Malone Twitter account. You can check out a comparison between the original and Chinese versions below.