Daisy Ridley isn't a name you've heard of until the promotion began for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Honestly I'm glad they didn't screw up the casting for this one the way they did with Episodes I, II, and III. The leads and new characters needed to be played by newcomers and actors just starting their careers, much they way Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford did all those years ago. Daisy Ridley is perfect as Rey. All we really know about Rey right now is that she was born to unknown parents and at the age of 5, was left on the planet Jakku on her own and learned to survive by scavenging the leftovers that she would sell for sustenance.
You've probably seen some posts from me over the last week that alluded to the fact that I had the amazing opportunity to attend the press junket/press conference for a little film called Star Wars: The Force Awakens that opens in theatres December 18th. That event included our intimate small-group Daisy Ridley interview.
Rey is such an exciting character. It's incredible to see such a strong, powerful female character as a lead. It's been a long time since we've had a woman in a role like this. Certainly from the snippets we've seen in trailers and from the account of her peers, Daisy Ridley has nailed this role. She's a rising star and next year I'm sure you'll see more of her, and not just in the promos for Episode VIII. I'm pretty sure Rey is Daisy Ridley's breakout role. Every little girl—heck every woman, too—will want to be Rey when they grow up. I had the chance to sit down and interview Daisy Ridley on her role as Rey as part of our press junket day. Having not screened the movie yet and not knowing much about the character (despite my theories), it's hard to know what to ask, but our intimate group of 25 elite bloggers had enough questions to fill our 15 minutes with Daisy Ridley.
On being the Luke Skywalker of the next generation
Daisy Ridley: Well it's weird, because I 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. Obviously it's very exciting that I'm a girl and 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 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.
On female characters or roles she embodied while playing Rey
Daisy Ridley: Matilda is my favorite film and 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. 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.
On joining a franchise that crosses so many generations
Daisy Ridley: 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 really cool.
But everyone would be so infected by this thing, and obviously it sweeps you along with it. But I was always kind of more of 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.
On seeing herself as an action figure
Daisy Ridley: It's cool, I haven’t seen this one with the rucksack. It's cool. I've got this suitcase of stuff sent to me, and I received it when I was alone, I'm sure many of you are on Instagram. I Instagramed my reaction because it was so—my dog was there, my dog was like what up. And so I kind of put everything away, and then I came back the next day and there were figures everywhere, and me and my sister live together, I was like, “What are you doing? Put them away, that is so weird.”
And then I just moved out, and she was like, ‘Oh my god, I can make the flat a shrine to you.' So thank you, though.
I think it's really cool, apparently they're sold out in quite a few places, so I don't know whether I'll be able to find them.
On the audition process
Daisy talked about how for the audition, she showed up an hour early she was so incredibly nervous and excited. Knowing she couldn't walk in an hour early, she went to a coffee shop to “sit and chill.” She went back to the audition a half an hour early and they told her to come back because she was too early. Daisy was worried she was going to overthink everything, but it turns out she did great (obviously).
“It was just over in a flash. You put so much pressure on yourself when you think about it so much,” Daisy Ridley said. “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. Obviously I still wanted the role but I was like even if I don't [get it], 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.”
On what characteristic of Rey she sees in herself
Daisy Ridley: Obviously I see a lot of myself in her, because it's me playing her. I 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 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. 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, brave and honest and open.
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.
On her first response to seeing the trailer
Daisy talked about her emotional response to seeing the trailer and film. She couldn't believe she was a part of something so grand. She thought she's feel the same way watching the film as when she watched the trailer, but the emotional response after watching the film was much more complex. She also compared her emotions to that of being a mother. She mentioned that she'd heard when you're a mother, you get more emotional (it's true, I'd say; we confirmed that for her and laughed a little with her). She talked about how she didn't really like watching herself on film; she thought it was “odd.”
Daisy Ridley: 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 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. 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, uh, god I can't imagine being a mother.
People say the emotions get more—I'm going to be so emotional. You're fine and then suddenly it 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, it was just like that. And then the 10-hour plane journey home. I would sleep, and then I would wake up and I'd be panicky. 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.
On her take-away for young girls on being such a strong female character
Daisy Ridley: 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 were kind of, they formed ours. I remember when I was auditioning, I met Kathy [Kennedy] 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 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.
On her background in musical theatre/drama
Daisy Ridley: I went to a performing arts school and on the musical theater course. The thing that was difficult is in my class, unfortunately as it tends to happen in schools, the best people were picked a lot to sing, and so the rest of us lost confidence. But I had an amazing singing teacher once a week who I used to see, and I've just started singing lessons again, because it's something I really, really love. And it's difficult because, I don't know. It's something that I wish I sounded like how I think I know I could sound with the work.
But I don't have the time to work on it at the moment. And when Oscar said to me do some, I said, “Oh my god, Oscar, are you sick? You played a singer, I can't do this with you!” But I love singing so much.
I don't sing enough. I actually did do a rendition of “I'll Make A Man Out Of You.” I would love to be in a musical, I'd absolutely love to be in one. It's funny because I just saw “The Color Purple” last week, and I was watching it like, “I can't be in a musical. These are people that should be in musicals with voices like this.”
On what color her lightsaber would be if she had one in real life
Daisy Ridley: I feel like it would be a disco ball, like I was just thinking. It could be like a stick with kind of a thing and it could be like a rainbow. 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.
[We all laughed and told her that when we interviewed John Boyega, he told us the same thing, that his lightsaber would be a rainbow, too.]
No way! That's why we get on so well. Oh brilliant!
STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS opens in theatres December 18th.
I’ve been invited to LA courtesy of Disney for a media event. All opinions are my own.
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