Daisy Ridley was an unknown young actress when she was cast as the lead in one of Hollywood’s biggest-ever film franchises, her life changing forever when she landed the coveted role of Rey in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Born in London in 1992, Ridley studied drama at the Tring Park School for the Performing Arts, which led to small movie roles and TV guest spots before she was ultimately cast in director J.J. Abrams’ 2015 Star Wars movie. “My sister asked me, ‘Why do people want to be actors?’ I had no answer,” Ridley said in an early interview (via The Guardian). “I’m not totally sure of my capabilities. I felt like a total novice compared to everyone I worked with. I went to the dentist last week and I said I was an actress, and everyone’s like, ‘Ooohhh.’ It still feels weird to me.”
Even her biggest fans, however, probably don’t know all the fascinating facts about the captivating actress. Read on to discover the untold truth of Daisy Ridley.
Daisy Ridley didn't know what she was getting herself into when she was cast in Star Wars
Daisy Ridley was just 21 when she was cast as Rey, the protagonist of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. And while her casting didn’t happen overnight — she auditioned five times over the course of seven months — her meteoric rise to worldwide fame was a different story.
“People don’t believe me when I say this, but I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into,” Ridley told Net-a-Porter’s Porter magazine. “I knew this was a film that was going to be watched by so many people, but I was more concerned with how long it would take to make, how long I would be in that world. I didn’t know about press tours. I was like, ‘Why are we going to Germany? Or China?'”
She added, “I remember coming out of the toilet at the first premiere and people were staring at me. It was really strange. I couldn’t figure out why they were looking. I always find the sudden intrusion difficult to navigate. But I am getting better at it.” Her acclimation to celebrity can easily be seen when looking back at Daisy Ridley’s stunning transformation over the years.
Daisy Ridley felt intense pressure starring in The Force Awakens
Jumping aboard one of Hollywood’s biggest franchises is something few have ever experienced, and, for Daisy Ridley, it’s been a wild ride. “I had no sense of what I was getting into. No sense of what was really going to happen or what anything would entail,” she told V Magazine. “I hadn’t done a film before, so it was a whole new thing. It’s such a crazy thing the first time around.”
Making her second Star Wars film, she explained, actually helped to ground her after the craziness of the first. “My head was so f**ked after the first one came out,” she added. “It was strange getting back into it, and it felt familiar and comforting. I suddenly felt really seen in a way [after the first Star Wars], which was so weird. Then, back at work, you’re just you and it’s not a big deal.” She explained, “You’re just at work: You’re doing your job and everyone else is doing their job. It’s just me being me. I just really liked being part of something where you’re one of a whole. When filming, you’re always part of a thing.”
Why Daisy Ridley won't take selfies with fans
Some advice for any Star Wars fans who happen to encounter Daisy Ridley and ask her to pose for a selfie, only to be rebuffed: Don’t take it personally. “I usually say: ‘I’m really sorry — not today,'” she told Radio Times, as reported by the Daily Mail. “Because I’m not a big photo taker, and I don’t want everyone to immediately know where I am.”
For Ridley, avoiding selfies is one way to protect those last vestiges of privacy she still has while navigating the fame that accompanies being the star of a major franchise beloved by millions. “I know people share [their selfies] immediately, so I’m very aware of privacy in that way,” she added. “With kids, they’re not going to put it up somewhere straightaway.”
She’d previously told Radio Times in 2017, “I find the whole taking pictures thing weird. I’d prefer to have a conversation than someone asking for a picture, but I guess people feel the need to prove they’ve had the interaction through social media.”
Daisy Ridley's reluctant to talk about her love life with the press
At the time of this writing, Daisy Ridley is believed to be dating (and possibly engaged to) British actor Tom Bateman, with whom she co-starred in Murder on the Orient Express. However, she has neither confirmed nor denied the rumored relationship, and she has continually refused to offer any public comment about her personal life.
As she explained in an interview with Net-a-Porter’s Porter magazine, this is simply another way to maintain a certain degree of privacy while living in the fishbowl of celebrity. “The things I was initially happy to talk about have changed,” she said. “The boundaries around what’s yours and what’s other people’s start to drift.”
In a November 2019 interview with Marie Claire, she addressed engagement rumors after being spotted wearing a diamond ring on a very specific finger. “The thing is, I’ve never talked about my personal life,” she said when asked about the rumored engagement ring. “So I won’t talk about it now. I’m so aware of how much information about my life is out there…”
The reason why Daisy Ridley stepped away from social media
In 2016, Daisy Ridley shared her thoughts about gun violence on Instagram, and was hit with a wave of backlash by those accusing her of hypocrisy due to the violence within the Star Wars franchise. As a result, she deleted her Instagram account and decided to exit social media entirely, just like other celebs who have quit social media over the years (via Entertainment Tonight).
“I don’t do social any more,” she told Radio Times the following year. “I came off it last September and I will never get back on. The more I read about teenage anxiety, the more I think it’s highly unhealthy for people’s mental health. It’s such a weird thing for young people to look at distorted images of things they should be.”
She shared more about social media during a chat with YouTube talk show AM to DM. “I honestly think now with social media and stuff … it’s great to have freedom of expression but I do feel like people think that opinions have so much weight,” she said. “I don’t think bad vibes should have the sun shone on them. Like, I don’t want to read your thing!” She vowed to remain “cut off like a Skywalker limb” from social media.
Daisy Ridley has opened up about her struggle with endometriosis
Prior to cutting ties with social media, Daisy Ridley opened up about her health in a lengthy 2016 Instagram post detailing her struggles with endometriosis, a painful and debilitating condition in which “tissue similar to the tissue that normally lines the inside of your uterus … grows outside your uterus,” as explained by Mayo Clinic. And endometriosis can also affect the condition of one’s skin.
“At 15 I was diagnosed with endometriosis,” she wrote in the now-deleted post, as reported by Entertainment Tonight. “One laparoscopy, many consultations and eight years down the line, pain was back (more mild this time!) and my skin was THE WORST.” She explained, “I have polycystic ovaries and that’s why it’s bad,” adding, “I hate wearing makeup but I currently don’t want to leave the house without it on.”
She concluded by offering her advice to other women experiencing health issues. “My point is, to any of you who are suffering with anything, go to a doctor; pay for a specialist; get your hormones tested, get allergy testing; keep on top of how your body is feeling and don’t worry about sounding like a hypochondriac,” she concluded.
The stress of Star Wars left Daisy Ridley a wreck
Endometriosis wasn’t the only health issue Daisy Ridley has experienced. By the time she was on the press tour for Star Wars: The Last Jedi, she revealed to Elle UK that she’d developed “holes in [her] gut wall” due to stress. “I saw a picture of me at the London premiere and I was so skinny and my skin was terrible,” she told British GQ. “My body was just f**ked up. I got tests done and it turned out my body was taking in no nutrients. I was just like a little skeleton and I was just so tired. I was becoming a ghost.”
As Ridley told Vulture, the experience taught her an important lesson. “I basically did not properly take care of myself. So now it’s like, A massage would be good! A facial would be good. … I’ve realized that you don’t have to absolutely kill yourself in order to be healthy.” She continued, “And I took control and figured out how to keep myself safe. I do feel a lot calmer, and settled. I don’t think anything will ever be as scary as the initial six months after Star Wars came out.”
Why Daisy Ridley wasn't surprised by backlash to The Last Jedi
While Star Wars: The Force Awakens was heralded by fans and critics alike as a thrilling return to form for the franchise, the 2017 followup The Last Jedi was not met with nearly as much love. In fact, it was even hit with backlash. Some fans were profoundly unhappy with the franchise’s shift to strong female characters and more ethnic diversity, and actress Kelly Marie Tran was particularly targeted by social media trolls.
Speaking with USA Today, Daisy Ridley admitted she had an inkling that the film would wind up generating such polarizing opinions. “I wasn’t surprised, no. It’s just a different thing. Everyone’s going to have an opinion now anyway on the internet, but I also think it’s fair. If people hold something incredibly dear and think they know how it should be and it’s not like that, it’s fair for people to think they were done wrong.” She continued, “It doesn’t mean they were — ultimately, [The Last Jedi director] Rian [Johnson]’s a filmmaker and one person can’t dictate how a film is supposed to be — but freedom of expression, sure.“
Daisy Ridley's tattoo has very deep meaning
To Vogue, Daisy Ridley opened up about a tattoo on her torso that holds special meaning for her: a star within a cyclone, courtesy of Los Angeles-based tattoo artist to the stars Dr. Woo. As she explained, the tattoo represents “the solidity of my family within all of the other craziness that goes on.” She added, “I don’t need a tattoo to represent my life. But I really love it. I like looking at it and thinking about all of the things that are constant.”
Ridley, who knows firsthand what happens to your body when you get a tattoo, got even more specific about the meaning of her ink in an interview with British GQ, with the magazine pointing out the tattoo is “not for public display” but for her own personal enjoyment. “The world is a cyclone,” she told the magazine, gesturing to the street outside. “See? Everything out there is the cyclone. And then there’s the solid thing at the centre of it all. That solid star is my family.”
Daisy Ridley rejects the notion that her Star Wars character is a "Mary Sue"
A “Mary Sue” is a trope in media in which a female character is so perfectly idealized that she appears to be utterly flawless, boasting incredible skills and abilities that seemingly arise out of thin air. When The Force Awakens hit theaters in 2015, a debate arose over whether Ridley’s character, Rey, was an example of a Mary Sue.
Ridley, however, rejected that suggestion during an interview with MTV’s Happy Sad Confused podcast, even going so far as to dismiss the entire trope as being sexist. “The Mary Sue thing in itself is sexist because it’s a name of a woman,” Ridley explained. “Everyone was saying that Luke had exactly the same thing. I think Rey is incredibly vulnerable, and nothing she’s doing is for the greater good. She’s just doing what she thinks is the right thing. And she doesn’t want to do some of it, but she feels compelled to do it. So for me, I was just confused.”
The reason Daisy Ridley thinks her final Star Wars movie is "the best"
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker marked the third time Daisy Ridley portrayed Rey, and she gushed about her experience making the film in an interview with Marie Claire.
“The third one for me was the best,” said Ridley of the big-budget blockbuster, which reportedly cost an estimated $200 million to make. “It’s a big film for everyone. I did all of the emotions: I did frowns, I did smiles, it was the sort of biggest breadth, and I think that’s also why I had such a good time, because I got to do so much s**t — like, physically, emotionally — and I got to work with so many people.”
Another unexpected bonus she discovered was that the film’s prop department figured out a way to make the Star Wars lightsabers lighter and easier to handle. “If they had been heavier, I don’t think we would have been able to do it,” she admitted. “It’s just really epic.”
Daisy Ridley cried through filming her final Star Wars scene
The memory of filming her final scene for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is a somewhat fuzzy one for Daisy Ridley, who admitted she was overcome with emotion at the time.
“I just can’t remember it,” she admitted in an interview with People‘s Couch Surfing. “I remember [director] J.J. [Abrams] making a speech and I sort of remember a couple things he said, like I’m always on time, which I appreciate him saying. And then he went to pass me the mic and I was the last person to wrap. It was my final shot … and I’m just crying in the shot.” She added, “It was incredibly dramatic.”
She elaborated on that final scene in an interview with British GQ. “The scene was me being very sad,” she teased. “Let’s just say it was not hard to be upset in that scene … I did this embarrassing speech that I can’t remember. It was so sad.”
Why The Rise of Skywalker will be the final time Daisy Ridley plays Rey… probably
While The Rise of Skywalker will close the door on Rey’s chapter of the Star Wars saga, it won’t be the final movie in the franchise. Asked whether there’s a possibility her character could make a return in a future Star Wars adventure, Daisy Ridley offered a pretty definitive answer.
“I can’t actually imagine it right now. The ending to Rise of Skywalker … it’s very satisfying. It felt like an end,” she told Vulture, admitting, “I don’t know what’ll happen in however many years.”
Ridley is adamant to never say never, but, for the time being, she and Rey have gone their separate ways. “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,” she added. “So right now, I don’t think so. But who could say, really? An opportunity might present itself. I love how the movie hasn’t come out and people are like, ‘What about going forward?’ [Laughs.] Right now, it feels like a really nice full stop on the Skywalker series.“
The Star Wars mementos Daisy Ridley stole from set
Actors have been known to steal props, costumes, and other items from their films as keepsakes, and Daisy Ridley admitted to similar thievery. During an appearance on NBC’s A Little Late with Lilly Singh, she explained that while several of her male co-stars have “stolen stuff,” she’s “been so well-behaved the whole time.” But when her Star Wars journey was coming to an end, she felt the time was right to grab a memento. “This time I was like, ‘I’m gonna take something,'” she said, revealing she grabbed “the ring that [she wears] for Dark Rey.” She went on, “And I may have been given a sword made of light, which is very exciting.”
There was, however, one more item she had her eye on. “I’m going to ask for my costume, but I haven’t asked for that yet.” Host Lilly Singh quickly asked, “Okay, what are you gonna do with it? Are you gonna hang it in your house or you gonna sell it on eBay? Be real.”
“Well,” Ridley quipped, “it’s basically if I never work again, it could help me pay for myself.”
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