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John Boyega exits Netflix’s ‘Rebel Ridge’ a week into film’s production

A man stands in profile
John Boyega has left the film “Rebel Ridge.”
(Katie Falkenberg / Los Angeles Times)

With Netflix citing “family reasons,” John Boyega has abruptly exited the lead role in the upcoming film “Rebel Ridge” a week into shooting.

“‘Rebel Ridge’ is pausing temporarily as we look to re-cast John Boyega, who needed to leave the project for family reasons,” a Netflix spokesperson said in a statement.

“We remain committed to Jeremy Saulnier’s extraordinary film and look forward to resuming production. We look forward to continuing our partnership with John Boyega’s UpperRoom Productions, in addition to our upcoming film ‘They Cloned Tyrone,’ in which he also stars.”

“Rebel Ridge” had finally begun principal photography in Louisiana after being delayed more than a year by the pandemic. Its cast includes AnnaSophia Robb, Emory Cohen, Don Johnson, James Cromwell, James Badge Dale, Zsane Jhe and Al Vicente.

“I’m the only cast member who had their own unique experience of that franchise based on their race,” John Boyega told British GQ of his “Star Wars” role.

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Saulnier is best known for directing the acclaimed indie thriller “Green Room.” Netflix does not have an official logline for “Rebel Ridge,” but described it to The Times thusly: “From the acclaimed writer/director of ‘Green Room’ and ‘Blue Ruin,’ ‘Rebel Ridge’ is a deeply human yet high-velocity thriller that explores systemic American injustice in the context of bone-breaking action, ever-coiling suspense, and pitch-black humor.”

“They Cloned Tyrone,” Boyega’s other current Netflix project, recently wrapped and costars Jamie Foxx, Teyonah Parris and Brian Tyree Henry. His next release is slated to be the legal thriller “Naked Singularity,” whose logline is “When a successful New York public defender loses his first case, his life begins to unravel.” Olivia Cooke and Ed Skrein also star.

In recent years, the British-Nigerian actor — who debuted on the big screen in “Attack the Block” (2011), gained international fame as Finn in the “Star Wars” sequel trilogy and is now a leading Emmy contender for “Small Axe” — had moved into the role of producer-star with his company, UpperRoom Productions (“Pacific Rim: Uprising”). The company is now in pre-production on “Attack the Block 2.”

Not too long ago in a galaxy far, far away, John Boyega shot to stardom as a reformed Stormtrooper adventuring his way into the Resistance alongside Rey, Poe, Luke and Leia in 2015’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”

In 2020, UpperrRoom inked a deal with Netflix to produce non-English-language films: “Boyega’s production company will develop film projects based on stories, cast, characters, crew, literary properties, mythology, screenplays and/or other elements in or around African countries, with a focus on West and East Africa,” said the streamer in an statement.

At press time, there were no further details on the actor’s departure from “Rebel Ridge” or his potential replacement.


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