We sat down to an exclusive Daisy Ridley interview for her upcoming debut role in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Post sponsored by Disney. All magical opinions are my own
Daisy Ridley Interview for Star Wars: The Force Awakens | The Next Luke Skywalker?
No, this is not Keira Knightly. You may never have heard of Daisy Ridley before today. But in just a few days, this young lady is going to become THE household name across the galaxy and THE face of the new generation of Star Wars lovers. I know….dude! How could Daisy Ridley even fathom the depth of the impact that she is going to have on the Star Wars movie franchise? She can’t. Not really understanding the full impact of her presence in the Star Wars universe only made her more appealing to talk to as we sat down for an exclusive interview. How does she feel about being the next “Luke Skywalker?” What role does her non-Star Wars fandom play in her role as Rey? What message is she hoping to leave for young girls of tomorrow? Read on, young Jedi.
Daisy Ridley is the epitome of radiance. She’s beautiful, poised and has a lovely accent…even with a cold. Dressed to perfection (where in the world can I buy her dress?!) and a big smile across her face, you could tell she was just as excited to be sitting in that room as we were. Rey, the heroine in the new Star Wars: The Force Awakens movie, has not fully sunk into the up and coming actress, as this is her first major role. But as soon as she opened her mouth, I knew. She is exactly what Star Wars needs.
One of the most surprising parts of the interview was right off of the first question. Daisy is NOT a huge Star Wars fan?
You are being referred to as the next generation’s Luke Skywalker. How do you feel about that and what do you think about being a role model to girls in this generation that are going to see [Star Wars] maybe for the first time?
Well, it’s weird. 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 is Han. And she’s a kick-ass woman; so is 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.
Rey and Matilda…yes they can be comparable.
Are there other characters or female roles in the movies that you [drew inspiration from] when playing Rey?
Well, it’s weird. Because I kind of said this the other day. And I didn’t articulate it very well. But there is a reason for it. 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 of self discovery and push yourself beyond limits and meet people who bring the best out of you. I can definitely see those parallels.
Was it overwhelming to join a franchise that spans generations?
No, 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. 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 infected by this thing and obviously it sweeps you along with it. But 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
[INSERT THIS FACE ABOVE] in this one. But [LAUGHTER] it’s really cool. But I’ve got this suitcase of stuff sent to me and I received it when I was alone. I Instagrammed my reaction because it was so- my dog was there, my dog was like “what evs?” 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!” [LAUGHTER] Then I just moved out and she was like, oh my god, I can make the flat a shrine to you?
One of the most fascinating parts of the interview was hearing about the audition process for Daisy and how she had to “lie” to John Boyega.
Can you tell us a little about your 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 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’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. 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 Boyega?
No, for mine I didn’t. I was cast slightly before John was. So me and J.J. had a conversation and 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.” [LAUGHTER] and 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, 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.
Do you have a background in musical drama? Anything [musical-wise] coming up for you?
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 it’s something that I wish I sounded like how I think I know I could sound [LAUGHTER] with the work. But I don’t have the time to work on it at the moment. 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. [referring to the twitter fan Q&A on the Star Wars twitter page] But I love singing so much .
Have people been asking you to sing since then?
I actually did do a rendition of I’ll Make A Man Out Of You [referring to the Global Press Conference]. But I would love to be in a musical. I’d absolutely love to be in one. But 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.
I think one of the things I most worry about as a mom is making sure that Rey represents what a young girl should be as a heroine and as a role model for my daughter. Daisy Ridley touches on Rey’s characteristics and why young girls will love her.
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 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.
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. But brave and honest and open. Like I hate lying. And 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.
At this point I was near tears as she explained her reactions to seeing herself in the film for the first time. I couldn’t imagine the overwhelming emotions and the realization of the impact she’s going to have on Star Wars….forever.
What was it like seeing yourself on the screen for the first time?
It’s weird because when I watched the trailer I thought I’d feel like that [while] watching the film. But I didn’t. I felt like that after I finished watching the film but it was far more complex. 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. 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! [LAUGHTER] Then after like an hour we were in Bad Robot but we were 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’re fine and then suddenly 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…Oh, it was just like that! And then the ten-hour plane journey home. I would sleep and then I would wake up and I’d be panicky [LAUGHS]. It was really weird. It was 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.
Be sure to read all the way to the last quote. It’s a good one.
You play a very strong female lead in the movie. Do you have a good takeaway for young girls?
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 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.
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.
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 a movement of women, not just in film, all over the world and all different sectors. That is an incredible thing.
Daisy Ridley was beautiful, poised and humbly refreshing to interview. I’m curious to follow her reaction once the real impact of Star Wars has set in. Be on the lookout for Daisy Ridley as Rey, the star of the new Star Wars: The Force Awakens! Have you been following along my #StarWarsEvent journey? Catch up on all of the exclusive Star Wars: The Force Awakens press events here!
What do you think of Daisy Ridley, the new face of Star Wars?
This post is sponsored by Disney. I received an all-inclusive press trip in exchange for this posting. All Star Wars loving opinions are my own. Be sure to follow Raising Whasians via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube for more Disney movie updates!