Actor John Boyega wanted to challenge self with "Detroit"

This image released by Annapurna Pictures shows John Boyega in a scene from "Detroit." (Francois Duhamel/Annapurna Pictures via AP)

"Detroit" star John Boyega says the upcoming film about the 1967 riot may be set a half-century ago, but it explores issues as relevant today as they were then

DETROIT — "Detroit" star John Boyega says his new movie may be set a half-century ago, but it explores issues that remain relevant.

"We're dealing with systematic racism. We're dealing with social unrest. We're dealing with an uprising. And these are stories that reflect until today — especially police brutality," Boyega told The Associated Press during an interview Monday.

The London-born actor was in Detroit promoting the film of the same name. Directed by Oscar-winner Kathryn Bigelow, "Detroit" is a drama about the 1967 riot. The movie, which opens Aug. 4, also stars Anthony Mackie and John Krasinski.

"I was at a point where I had done a few projects, and I wanted to challenge myself," Boyega said "And when 'Detroit' came on my radar, it felt like a godsend to obviously have this kind of project, this kind of script.

"But at the same time, Kathryn as a director, she's unique in her process, and it just so happens to suit me."

One of the "few projects" Boyega has done happens to be one of the biggest film franchises of all time. He starred as Finn in 2015's "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," and reprises the role in the sci-fi saga's eighth installment, "The Last Jedi," which is due out at the end of the year.

Asked whether audiences should be excited about the new "Star Wars' film, Boyega laughed and said: "Should people be excited? Of course they're going to be excited. You know, it's 'Star Wars.' Yeah, they should be."

Following the AP interview, Boyega and a few others actors from "Detroit" set about packaging food at Gleaners Community Food Bank, popping canned goods into plastic bags, all of which later will be distributed to families throughout the Detroit area.

Boyega said he's "here to help out.

"You know, package some food, be a positive impact to the community. I think 'Detroit,' it's not just a commercial movie. I think the intention from the beginning was to be a part of the community and for this movie to have a positive impact."

"Detroit" will have its premiere in the city on Tuesday at the Fox Theatre.

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