As one of the new core characters introduced to the Star Wars franchise in The Force Awakens, it suffices to say that Finn had a whole lot of pressure on his shoulders from the very beginning.
With a winning performance by John Boyega and an utterly compelling narrative journey behind him, Finn quickly more than made a name for himself, proving that he was indeed a “big deal” after all.
However, as charming and earnest as Finn may have been in The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, it still stands that we don’t know much about his character.
With no real information on his background provided, and given the fact that he was only given a name of his own in the film, you could even argue that Finn’s character is far more of a mystery than Rey’s ever has been.
With The Last Jedi upon us, we figure that it’s as good a time as any to take stock and outline what we do actually know about Finn so far, before we inevitably have our understanding of his character totally shaken.
Here are the 15 Things You Didn’t Know About Star Wars‘ Finn.
15. He had three friends within his ranks… and we know one of them
Although the many, many books that were written following the release of Return of the Jedi are no longer considered truly canon for the current Star Wars universe, and instead have now been re-categorized as part of a Legends canon, a new and impressive canon of characters has begun to be crafted for the world of this new trilogy.
In Before the Awakening by Greg Rucka, a young adult novel that fills in a few of the blanks in the lives of Rey, Finn, and Poe, readers are introduced to Finn’s life as a Stormtrooper. Along the way, they become acquainted with three of Finn’s friends and coworkers: Nines, Zeroes, and Slip.
As it turns out, Slip is a character who is already familiar to viewers of The Force Awakens, whether they realize it or not. It’s Slip who dies on the battlefield in front of Finn, and therefore, it’s Slip who sets all of Finn’s journey into motion from the very beginning.
14. He is one of the only non-force-sensitive characters to wield a lightsaber
Lightsabers are an undeniably major part of the Star Wars saga. With incredible duels and battles taking place in every film, and with every lightsaber-wielding character having a signature saber of their own, the weapons have become symbols for the franchise as a whole, as well as certain Force-using characters within it.
However, Finn currently stands in an elite class (almost) all on his own. Based on what we know so far from The Force Awakens, Finn joins a very select group of non-Force-sensitive characters who have wielded a lightsaber.
Han Solo uses Luke’s lightsaber briefly at the start of Empire Strikes Back in order to keep Luke safe on Hoth, and while General Grievous may be a skilled multi-saber fighter, he doesn’t in fact possess the Force.
13. He was originally a smuggler named Sam
Part of what makes Finn such a fascinating character is that he’s the first protagonist character we have seen cross sides from being entrenched within the ranks of the dark side to join the cause of the light side. However, early in the development process, this was anything but the case for our newest hero.
Early concept art reveals a version of Finn who was once named Sam and who looked a whole hell of a lot like a variation on Han Solo.
A young white man with moppish hair, a blaster, and a jacket and shirt that resemble Han’s iconic design, Sam was a more roguish, macho and charismatic character, meant to be paired with the girl once known as Kira.
12. Boyega doesn’t want Finn to get with either Rey or Poe
In recent years, shipping has become a particularly prominent part of internet fandom culture. In a fandom as large and expansive as Star Wars is, there’s no denying the sheer amount of ships that have set sail within fans’ minds, even only based on The Force Awakens alone.
Whether in JediStorm (Finn and Rey) or StormPilot (Finn and Poe), Finn has proved himself to be quite the easy character to root for romantically.
However, as far as Boyega is concerned, he’s not a fan of either pairing for Finn. In a recent interview with Comicbook while promoting The Last Jedi, Boyega explained his stance: “I think he should stay single for now, he hasn’t figured himself out. He’d ruin them if he got into a relationship, so, I think he should just stay cool, man. Stay cool.”
11. Jesse Plemons was once rumored to be a front runner for the role
When Finn was Sam, one particular well known name from the world of the small screen quickly emerged from the fray as a front runner for the enviable role.
Jesse Plemons, known to viewers of cult drama series such as Friday Night Lights and Breaking Bad, was named early on as a likely star for The Force Awakens.
Fans quickly went into hysteria, presuming that he would be the son of either Luke Skywalker or Han Solo and Leia Organa. However, as we now know, there was nothing to this casting rumor but just that: a rumor.
10. His Stormtrooper ID contains two references
When we’re first introduced to Finn in The Force Awakens, it’s with the dehumanizing rank title of FN-2187. Why, after all, would the First Order allow these Stormtroopers to keep their original humanoid names, when they’re merely fodder for the war that they’re dead set on fighting? Stormtroopers are merely soldiers, they aren’t meant to have any other attachments or purpose.
No matter how dehumanizing the title may have been, though, it turns out that Finn’s was deliberately chosen with two very personal touches in mind. The numbers 21-87 are from the title of a very early George Lucas project. The same four numbers can also be seen as the number of the cell in which Princess Leia is kept hostage in A New Hope.
9. He was in the top one percent of his class
Over the course of The Force Awakens, we learn that Finn is skilled in many areas that he doubts his own proficiency in. He’s not that bad of a pilot and he’s a pretty good shot too. He also really isn’t all that bad with a lightsaber when you think about it, given how long he was able to hold his own against Kylo Ren.
As the prequel novel Before the Awakening shows, Finn’s tendency toward success and greatness is one that had been quietly simmering just beneath the surface, even if on the Stormtrooper scale of excellence: “He was, as far as the training cadre and his peers were concerned, one of the best Stormtroopers anyone had ever seen. He was everything their instructors wanted—loyal, dutiful, brave, smart, and strong.”
“Whatever the test, whatever the evaluation, FN-2187 consistently scored in the top 1 percent. So he was FN-2187, well on his way to becoming the ideal First Order Stormtrooper. That was what everyone thought, at least. Except FN-2187 himself.”
8. The original pitch for his character was very vague
Sometimes, the biggest successes come from the most unlikely of origins. When it comes to the writing and brainstorming process, you can never be totally sure where you’re going to strike gold, so to speak, or which drafts are better left unfinished.
According to John Boyega, the original logline for Finn was as vague as it could be: “Boy 1: Charming, funny, hero.”
Yet, for as nondescript a description, we can see that much of that inherent personality carried over. Finn has charm in spades from the very beginning, and his humor is undeniable. Also, by the end of the film, he’s just as much of a hero as any member of the Resistance is shown to be.
7. He was almost going to keep Boyega’s British accent
Changing accents is more or less one of the main tools of the acting trade. So when it came to Boyega swapping his classic Londoner accent for a more subdued American one as he played Finn, it doesn’t seem as though there was much in the way of a struggle, as his accent sounds as natural and unaffected as ever.
As it turns out, however, Finn originally had Boyega’s signature accent… but it didn’t go over well at all. With his own sense of humor on full display, Boyega explained the decision to drop his accent as so: “It doesn’t work. I sound sexy like this just because it’s me. As Finn, it doesn’t work in terms of the pace, the tone, the energy.
“And I did it American, and I felt comfortable doing it that way. There was an energy that the accent gave him, especially the comedy. It made him more grounded as a character. … It felt like a naturally good choice,” he said.
6. Maz Kanata’s first impression of him changed
When Rey, Finn, Han, Chewbacca, and BB-8 arrive at Maz Kanata’s castle on Takodana, it’s clear that they’re entering into a whole other world in more ways than one.
In addition to the countless new life forms that populate the cantina-like setting, the characters are forced to face Maz Kanata herself, whose thousands of years of living have wisened her even beyond her many years.
She appraises Finn quite easily, suspecting that something is off about him from the very beginning, and ultimately assessing him as having the eyes of someone who wants to run.
5. Boyega thinks of Finn as the audience’s entry point into the new trilogy
As one of the first point of view characters who is introduced in The Force Awakens, it was really only a matter of time before audiences found themselves deeply connected to Finn, regardless of his surprising Stormtrooper origins.
As far as John Boyega is concerned, though, that’s exactly how it should be. In fact, it sounds as though the actor intentionally played up Finn’s dramatic reactions in order to act as a sort of on screen conduit for the audience’s own feelings: “During the auditions I found that my niche for this character was definitely in the more humor and fear.”
“So he just represents us in the film — just finally having a Star Wars character that goes, ‘This is really dangerous,'” he continued. “Finn is a part of myself, just magnified a tad. And it was fun to do that.”
4. Boyega knows Finn’s greatest strength and weakness
Actors are often forced to get into the headspace of their characters with astounding depth and detail in order to learn how they work and portray them with as much accuracy as possible. Sometimes, this uncomfortable interiority manifsests itself in knowing not only the good parts of your character, but also the ugliest parts as well.
According to John Boyega, Finn’s greatest strength is his “loyalty to those he cares about. … So once you’re a brother of Finn, you’re a brother forever. That’s something that’s quite interesting about him.”
However, for as loyal as Finn may be, Boyega is quick to note that Finn can unintentionally self-sabotage by believing in the worst possible outcome.
3. In The Last Jedi, Finn may look the Resistance part, but he’s questioning his loyalty
For all of The Force Awakens, Finn’s costume is never one coherent Resistance sponsored look. He gradually strips away the remnants of the outfitting of his Stormtrooper suit, adding a brown leather jacket that he gains from Poe Dameron along the way. However, his outfit stands out with its stark and dark colors. Apparently, Boyega had something to say about it.
While meeting with Rian Johnson to prepare for The Last Jedi, Boyega admits that he “asked for a much more cool-looking costume. I wanted to look way more Resistance than I did in VII.”
However, at the same time, even as Finn appears more assimilated within the Resistance than ever before, his internal conflict is only growing, as he finds himself confronted with whether this is a side he truly wants to fight for.
2. Much of Finn’s iconic humor came as a result of Boyega adlibbing
Improvisation is a crucial part of much of acting. The ability to think on the spot and adapt to changing scenarios is a skill that is highly valued in most acting roles.
In The Force Awakens, Boyega proved himself to be quite the game adlibber, throwing in a few lines that have now become notably representative of Finn’s sharp wit and quick timing.
Perhaps the best instance of this is a scene in which Finn taunts his former superior, Captain Phasma, lording over her the fact that “I’m in charge. I’m in charge now, Phasma! I’m in charge!” According to Boyega, “that was one version of 15 versions where I was just talking smack to this silver thing.”
1. Boyega had to audition nine times before being cast as Finn
No one ever said that acting was an easy job. In fact, as it turns out, the audition process alone may be more gruelling than any non-actors could ever fully comprehend.
For John Boyega in particular, the audition process sounds like it was incredibly exhausting. In order to win the role of Finn, Boyega had to complete nine rounds of auditions that spanned a total of seven months and progressed from fake scene sides to a real script the further along he got in the process.
In fact, Boyega once joked that the process of audition after audition for all those months was so intensive that he aged considerably in that short period of time.
What’s your favorite fact about Star Wars‘ Finn? Let us know in the comments!
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