Recently, Daisy Ridley spoke with Inverse via The Hollywood Reporter about her time in the sequel trilogy and the harrowing warning that J.J. Abrams gave her leading up to filming. He said that to some fans, Star Wars was a religion, and "it changes things on a level that is inconceivable."
Daisy's life did change as she became the focus of disgusting fan vitriol. It was so bad that it's been well documented it chased her off social media along with her co-star Kelly Marie Tran. John Boyega famously called out the lack of protection from studios against fan backlash. The official Star Wars account and Ewan McGregor came out in defense of Moses Ingram. This isn't anything new, sadly. Billy Dee Williams spoke recently about how he's been yelled at by Star Wars fans for decades, sometimes with his young daughter with him at the time.
The most disturbing part of The Hollywood Reporter article was pulling up an old quote from a 2019 GQ interview about the toll that the stress took on Daisy. She says that being an actor was her normal, but Star Wars was "not normal to other people." It was so much that the stress caused her gut wall to develop holes. She stated in 2019:
"I saw a picture of me at the London premiere and I was so skinny and my skin was terrible... I got tests done and it turned out my body was taking in no nutrients. I was just a little skeleton and I was just so tired. I was becoming a ghost."
It's heartbreaking to know that so-called "Star Wars fans" were so intense that the stress caused physical harm to Daisy's body. How hard is it to separate that actors are not their characters? Because here's the truth:
Nothing in Star Wars is worth the health and well-being of a human being.
I know Star Wars isn't alone in this, as plenty of actors in other franchises have received death threats for just doing their job. Imagine someone coming into your work so unsatisfied with your performance that they threaten to find and harm you. This is not normal behavior.
And I know what some of you will say in the Facebook comments, because I do see them. You're going to brush it off. Say something along the lines that actors should expect this. That they should have thicker skin. That maybe they shouldn't do a Star Wars if they're not up for it. That the death threats aren't real or just bluster, and nobody would ever actually try to harm an actor. It's not like Norman Reedus has been bitten by a fan before, Alison Arngrim was 12 and being abused by adults on the street, or that there are entire listicles of actors murdered by their fans.
Look, I get that Star Wars means a lot to us. Star Wars has helped me through my worst time. I played The Clone Wars episodes as I packed up my life after losing my childhood home to foreclosure during the 2008 housing market crash and faced possible homelessness until my family stepped in. I turned to this franchise when I struggled with mental health and thoughts of self-harm. I'm alive because of Star Wars. If not for this franchise, I might not be breathing and typing this right now.
However, to quote Harrison Ford, at the end of the day, Star Wars is fake and in space. It's not real. It shouldn't be on the level of a religion. It's about pew pews, space wizards, murder teddy bears, and funny aliens. Nothing in this franchise is worth the health and well-being of another human being, whether it be actors, other fans, creators, or anyone in between those spaces. Constructive criticism is fine; harassment is not. So let's say this one more time for the people in the back: