Imagine wanting to be an actress and then the major movie role you land is one that of Rey, Star Wars: The Force Awakens new “Luke Skywalker.” With delicate looks, yet a force to be reckoned with, Daisy Ridley has seemed to have earned her new role model position with grace. I mean, your first job being that of arguably one of the biggest franchises of all times, it takes someone special.
Daisy was born in London a year after I graduated high school, in 1992. She decided to take a shot at acting just as the casting for Star Wars: The Force Awakens began to look for who would play Rey. As you will read in the interview, the process was not normal of most Hollywood actors landing a job, especially with something as huge as Star Wars. You see, prior to her casting in episode VII, Ridley was relatively unknown, only making small appearances in British television shows. However, in the next week, it will be no secret who this newcomer is, for she isn’t going anywhere, well, ever.
Daisy Ridley: The Next Luke Skywalker
We were talking to Kathleen Kennedy earlier today, she referred Rey to your character as the new generation’s Luke Skywalker. How do you feel about that and what do you think this means to girls coming up in this generation that are going to be introduced to Star Wars maybe for the first time?
Well it’s weird. Because I didn’t, wasn’t really thinking about myself in those terms when I was doing it, because I think that might have been slightly overwhelming. But now I can kind of see all of them in her. She’s a pilot so there’s Han. And she’s a kick-ass woman, so there’s Leia. But definitely the humble beginnings and an incredible story is the same as Luke. But obviously it’s very exciting that I’m a girl and that more people hopefully will be able to relate to this story because of that. Perhaps people that haven’t been able to relate so much before.
I wasn’t a huge Star Wars fan before, so I’m hoping that with the fact that I’m as excited as I am, I hope that other people can feel that. And perhaps feel like this is something that they can now come on board to if they haven’t already felt that.
Are there other characters or female roles in the movies that you kind of thought about when playing Rey?
Well it’s weird. Because I kind of said this the other day. And I didn’t articulate it very well. I didn’t think about it as I was doing it. But Matilda is my favorite film and though, Rey can’t make jugs of water tip over, that kind of sense of…obviously the stories are different. But being in a place that isn’t fulfilling and that isn’t emotionally giving you what you need. And not being appreciated. Matilda’s obviously in a family that doesn’t do that to her and Rey has no one. But to go on a journey and of self discovery and push yourself beyond limits and meet people who bring the best out of you. I can definitely see those parallels.
What’s it like to be part of a franchise that will be around for generations?
I’m glad I kind of didn’t know how far it reached. Because it was really only at the convention this year, the first convention we did, that I was like, “oh my God, there are a lot of people here”. And everyone is here for the same reason. I think that would have been quite overwhelming if I had been dealing with that while also dealing with the fact that I’m just a young girl being thrust into this thing and I don’t quite know why I’m here and all that kind of stuff. I was already dealing with that so I’m glad that I wasn’t dealing with the rest of the stuff. Even during it, sometimes I was like thinking it’s really cool. But everyone would obviously would be infected by this thing and obviously it sweeps you along with it. But I was always kind of more of it’s like it’s nice for me that I don’t have that sense and I still enjoy it as I do, because I think not everyone is a super fan. And to be a representative of those other people is great.
What’s it like to see yourself as an action figure?
It’s cool, I haven’t seen this one with the rucksack. It’s cool. She kind of looks a bit this one. But, (Laughing) it’s really cool, but I’ve got this suitcase of stuff sent to me and I received it when I was alone, I don’t know if I’m sure many of you are on Instagram, I Instagrammed my reaction because it was so excited. And so I kind of put everything away in the suitcase and then I came back the next day and there were figures everywhere.
Me and my sister live together, I was like, what are you doing, “Put them away, that is so weird. (Laughing) I just moved out and she was like, “oh my god, I can make the flat a shrine to you?”
Can you share a little about the audition process?
My audition process was very long. I’ve never been as nervous for an audition as I was for it, I turned up an hour early. And I was like, I can’t be an hour early, so I went to a coffee shop to like sit and chill. And then I went in half an hour early, they were like, no you need to come back, because you’re still too early. And, you know, when you’re just like oh my god am I going to- and, god, you’re over thinking everything. But it was great. Obviously it was just over in a flash. You put so much pressure on yourself when you think about it so much. Because even before I started auditioning two of my friends had said something about it and I was like, oh my god, I’ve got a really weird sense of, it sounds cliché, not destiny but a sense of something that was going to come from it. So I already had that in my mind that was kind of pushing me forward. But because of that, I was obviously putting a great deal of pressure on myself. So I didn’t really enjoy the audition process and I felt like I was kind of screwing up. Luckily J.J. obviously saw something and then in my last audition, I really felt like I did a good job. And I was really pleased. And I was like obviously I still wanted the role but I was like even if I don’t, I’m really glad that I’ve shown him really what I can do. And then luckily I got the role. So that was a good ending.
As far as the audition process, did you read with John or anyone else?
Uh, no. For mine I didn’t. I was cast slightly before John was. So me and J.J. had a conversation about it, so I knew all of the actors that were going to be in it, like that he wanted to be in it. And all of those actors ended up being in it. But then I tested with John and it was nerve wracking as well, because obviously I had been told I had the role but that was still a huge pressure for me. And John wasn’t allowed to know that I had got the role. So now he’s like, oh you lied to me. (Laughing) and a bit- it was the first time I kind of put on a costume-ish and we stepped on a set and Chewbacca was there. And I was like oh my gosh this is crazy. So that was at like so nerve wracking. But also wonderful. And from the moment I met John, I was like, oh my gosh. And when J.J. called me to tell me it was him, I was so pleased.
What characteristics of Rey do you see in yourself?
Obviously I see a lot of myself in her. Because it’s me playing her. I think she’s quite like myself as a person. I think everyone can be hard on themselves but I think all too often people are far too hard on themselves and it’s not celebrated enough that people can actually enjoy themselves. But all of the qualities I think maybe I possess in small things I think Rey has in greater amounts.
So I like to think I’m kind of brave but she’s far braver. I like to think I try and do the right thing but she far exceeds that. So I think she’s not polished and she’s nuanced and I think that’s why she’s so brilliant and so relatable. But she’s far more of anything I think I could ever be. I guess because of her circumstances and the fact that she’s not real, I don’t know. But brave and honest and open. Like I hate lying. I’m a very open person, and she’s open to everything that’s going around her, even though it scares her, even though it makes her feel like she wants to run. She kind of plows on, so I hope I have those qualities.
I’ve seen your Instagram video, watching the trailer for the first time. But what was that like to see the completed flim?
It’s weird because I kind of thought I’d feel like I did when I watched the trailer, I thought I’d feel like that watching the film. But I didn’t. I felt like that after I finished watching the film but it was far more complex and like watching the trailer, I felt an overwhelming sense of oh my god, look at what I’m part of, all of the work that’s gone into this, is just incredible. Thousands of people and time and energy and love has gone into this thing and that was really the beginning. We had seen the teasers but it was really like obviously the beginning of that. So watching the film, I kind of thought I’d be like that and it kind of wasn’t. I enjoyed it. But watching myself was very odd, really odd. And I was talking to Harrison, Harrison said he still doesn’t like watching himself. So I’m like if he doesn’t, it’s all right that I don’t! (Laughing) After like an hour we all kind of sat around having a chat and then I got in the car and just wept the whole way to the airport. But I didn’t quite know why. You know, when you sat there and you’re like, god I can’t imagine being a mother. People say the emotions get more, I’m going to be so emotional. (Laughter) I’d be like, one minute you’re fine and then suddenly you’re like — and it like hits you and the tears come and you don’t know why you’re doing it. And then it kind of settles again and then you remember that you were, oh, it was just like that. And then the ten-hour plane journey home. It was like I would sleep and then I would wake up and I’d be panicky (Laughing) It was really weird. It was like so much more than watching the trailer. But the overwhelming sense is the same. I’m still so incredibly pleased to be part of it. And I still can’t believe I’m part of it. And that this is a thing and that people are going to enjoy this that much. But I still grapple with the fact that that it is happening.
So you play a very strong female lead in the movie. So do you have a good takeaway for young girls that see the film?
Yeah. I think I’ve been very lucky in my life to be able to look up to incredible women, that me and my mom have an amazing relationship. And she is really an amazing woman. And my Gram, my mom has a group of friends who we kind of grew up with. I don’t really have very much close family so they kind of formed ours. I remember when I was auditioning, I met Kathy and I didn’t really understand who she was at that point. That’s obviously embarrassing now. But, she asked me who I looked up to and I remember talking about them and now I look at Kathy (producer and President of Lucasfilm Kathleen Kennedy) and think, oh my God. She’s another person. She’s another woman I look up to. So it’s funny because the women I look up to are older.
They’re wiser. They have far more life experience. But Rey in her way has lived a life and she has wisdom probably beyond her years. And the thought of girls being able to relate to a character in a film where perhaps girls can’t find in films so much of what they can physically like see themselves in. They can’t follow a story sometimes if there’s nothing that’s representing them in the film. So to be part of that is incredible. And like I’m just an actress, I’m not changing the world. But to be part of something that is perhaps groundbreaking and to be part of like a movement of women, not just in film, all over the world and all different sectors. That is an incredible thing.
If you had a light saber in real-life, what color would it be?
I feel like it would be a disco ball, like I was just thinking. It could be like a stick kind of a thing and it could be like a disco ball! And it wouldn’t do any harm. I really don’t condone violence. It wouldn’t do any harm but it would just really get the party started.
It’s obvious that the party is just starting for Daisy Ridley! In just a few more days, you can see Daisy as Rey in the new Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Until then, follow along!