The Daisy Ridley of today is very different than the one of seven years ago. Then, she was an unheard-of actress walking the streets of London. Now, she cannot take two steps without the paparazzi right on top of her.
Sandwiched in-between those endpoints is Ridley’s Star Wars journey. It’s the place where her career very much started and has led her to new heights since. However, there are also some details weaved throughout that make her experience with the saga a bit more interesting than just that. Here are five of them.
1. Star Wars was an escape from bartending
Prior to 2015’s The Force Awakens, Ridley’s filmography was slim, nothing more than television shows, short films and even music videos. Her film debut did not come until 2015’s Scrawl, a British independent student film. She was supposed to feature in The Inbetweeners 2, but her scenes were ultimately removed from the film.
All of that changed in April of 2014 when it was officially announced that Ridley was cast in the sequel trilogy, which had occurred back in February of that year. It was true to form for Star Wars after making its original name on bringing previously unknown actors to fame, with the new era aiming to do the same, according to J.J. Abrams.
That was especially relevant to Ridley, who had spent time working as a bartender prior to her breakthrough in Star Wars, and did not stop until December of 2014. She recalled that experience in an interview on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, and even put her skills to work at the film’s wrap party in Ireland.
2. Her acting career had slow beginnings
Building on the idea of Ridley as an unknown, she faced numerous hurdles in acting prior to landing in Star Wars, with her auditions there included.
Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter back in 2015, Ridley candidly discussed how she saw her lead role in Youngers drastically reduced and often faced rejection. She also explained her disappointment with her first two auditions for Star Wars.
"I had four or five auditions over seven months, and it was a very emotional time. My first few auditions really didn’t feel good, but my last audition suddenly felt like something clicked. You’re so desperate to get a role, but I felt like even if I didn’t get it, I did a good job, I’d done myself proud."
Those struggles extended on set, where Abrams bluntly called her early performances “wooden.” However, it was the tough love Ridley needed to find her best, saying, “To be honest I was struggling at that point and he definitely brought out the best I could have possibly given.”
She certainly did herself proud, and despite those initial butterflies, not only landed a role in the trilogy but became the star of it.
3. She wasn’t much of a Star Wars fan growing up.
The role of Rey also happened to be Ridley’s first real engagement with Star Wars. In fact, according to The Guardian, the experience was so new to her that Abrams had to explain the gravity of the situation, telling Ridley: “This is not a role in a movie. This is a religion for people. It changes things on a level that is inconceivable.”
That point aside, Ridley had not seen much of the films growing up, siding more with the Harry Potter stories instead. A GQ feature stated that “she would wait on the doorstep for each new Harry Potter book to arrive in the post and adored the films.”
Another example of that fandom comes in a funny anecdote Ridley recently shared on The Kelly Clarkson Show. She was such a fan that she tried to convince her classmates she starred in the films herself.
"So I went to boarding school, so basically I copy and pasted a picture of Moaning Myrtle into Microsoft Word, wrote “Daisy Ridley” underneath it, and left that in the common room. One, like a psychopath, two, as though anyone I went to school with would believe that I played Moaning Myrtle."
Jokes aside, both it being Ridley’s first significant acting role while realizing the weight that Star Wars holds in real-time, likely caused her initial struggles with the saga. However, as time went on, Ridley began to embrace her place in Star Wars much more, citing that she was at her best when it reached its conclusion.
4. Rise of Skywalker was her most difficult film
For numerous reasons, it is understandable why that conclusion, The Rise of Skywalker, was such a challenge. First, it was coming off the heels of a widely controversial Episode VIII, underwent a directorial change and, of course, had the challenging task of concluding both the trilogy and the Skywalker Saga.
Ridley felt that pressure too, saying, “It’s a heavy story for Rey. There were days where I was literally like, ‘I can’t do this, I’m so tired, I don’t know if I can like reach that emotion again.’”
She also cited the day-to-day changes the film faced, with Rey’s lineage being a major example as something she didn’t even have a concrete answer to amid the filming process. She elaborated on some of the other challenges to CinemaBlend, saying:
"I think honestly with this one I just got to do so much stuff, got to do all the emotions from A to B … I felt entirely exhausted fully, emotionally and physically, which I think is a good thing."
Despite all that, Ridley did take something positive away by achieving her greenbelt after taking on kickboxing as a part of the training process for the film. Hopefully, she gets the chance to put those moves on display with the aura of her yellow lightsaber in the future.
5. She is done playing Rey?
Speaking of the future, at the sequel trilogy’s conclusion, it seemed like Ridley was done gearing up as Rey for some time. Speaking to Vulture back in 2019 around the release of The Rise of Skywalker, Ridley said, “I can’t actually imagine it right now … It felt like an end. I don’t know what’ll happen in however many years. There are so many characters in the Star Wars world who’ve never been explored. There’s so much for the filmmakers to work on. So right now, I don’t think so.”
Still, Ridley kept the option on the table at the time, and fast forward to 2021, she seems even more open to the idea of a return than before.
"I mean, never say never … I’m always open to a revisit, but also the beautiful thing is it’s this wonderful, huge universe with all of these stories that have yet to be told. I think there’s a lot of cool things to be made before any potential revisit … In terms of revisiting the character, I think that’s a bye-bye for now.”"
So it’s difficult to tell where exactly Ridley stands. At the moment, it feels a bit too soon for a reunion, and she may have another big project in mind. It also feels like a guarantee that Rey will pop up at one point or another in the Star Wars universe. And I can’t wait for that day to come.
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