British cologne company Jo Malone has apologized to “Star Wars” actor John Boyega after editing him out of the Chinese version of an award-winning commercial that he originally conceived, directed and starred in.
The recast and reshot Chinese version replaced Boyega with local actor Liu Haoran (The “Detective Chinatown” franchise). The original commercial, titled “London Gent,” featured Boyega walking around London’s Peckham neighbourhood and featured a multicultural cast. It won The Fragrance Foundation Virtual Awards 2020 for Best Media Campaign.
“We deeply apologize for what, on our end, was a mistake in the local execution of the John Boyega campaign,” Jo Malone said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. “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,” the statement added. “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.”
Boyega was appointed the male global ambassador for the brand in 2019.
In 2015, Boyega made global headlines when his image on the China release posters of “Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens” was reduced in size. More recently, Boyega described his experiences on the “Star Wars” films in an extensive interview with GQ, in which he detailed the lack of nuance afforded to his character.
“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.
The actor will next be seen in Steve McQueen’s “Small Axe” drama anthology for the BBC and Amazon Prime Video.
The Hollywood Reporter first reported news of Jo Malone’s apology.