“I auditioned for this agency. I got an advertisement first, and then something else, which I got fired from. It was soul-destroying. And then the next thing I got, I thought was going to be my big break, and they cut the role. It was only the year that I started auditioning for ‘Star Wars’ when I really started getting roles.”—Daisy Ridley.
Best known for her role as Rey in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Daisy Ridley has been able to charm audiences with her smile, her accent, and her acting chops. The English actress joined the Star Wars universe in 2015, bearing the cross of having to compete for audience affection with old classics like Han Solo. Rey and Ridley both have their detractors but Ridley’s managed to take it all in stride and build her own fan base. Here are 42 forceful facts about Daisy Ridley.
42. Street Cred
One of Ridley’s first roles was actually in a music video for the song “Lights On” by Wiley. Unfortunately, the video seems like it’s hard to get a hold of online but Ridley did star in the video as an aspiring DJ’s girlfriend. Rey is a rebellious character, but the music video showed Ridley playing more of the type of rebellious activity we’re used to seeing in music videos, like buying alcohol with fake ID.
Like many people, Ridley suffers from anxiety, and it’s part of the reason she has vowed to never return to social media. She originally quit Instagram after a wave of backlash she received about comments she made on the platform.
40. Quick Learner
The Star Wars films pose a great physical challenge for their actors, not to mention the finer details that goes into swinging lightsabers around properly. The Last Jedi features a scene where Rey is practicing with Luke’s lightsaber, and the fight coordinator intended to take three days to walk Ridley through the steps. Liang Yiang was surprised to see Ridley master it in just 90 minutes.
39. Out of Control
Ridley got her first tattoo, three stars on her left foot, when she was 15 years old. She also has a peace sign behind her right ear. Ridley’s final tattoo is an alchemical symbol on her right hip. Ridley says her parents weren’t too happy about the star one, mainly due to how old she was when she got it, but she’s stayed out of trouble since.
38. Sashay Away
I’ve heard about this show a lot from co-workers, so it’s funny to hear that Ridley is a big fan of RuPaul’s Drag Race, so much so that she even dressed up as one of the contestants, Trinity K. Bonet, for Halloween one year.
Ridley has actually dabbled in anime, voicing an English version of the Japanese classic Only Yesterday, getting to work alongside Dev Patel of Slumdog Millionaire fame. The 1991 classic was produced by Studio Ghibli, who also produced Howl’s Moving Castle and Spirited Away.
36. Dive In
We’ve all been in a situation where we just take a job that comes along because we desperately need one or because we just like the company. In the case of Ridley, she didn’t put much thought into being one of the new faces of Star Wars. That said, Ridley did think of the extra attention she would get, and to this day she says that the attention she gets on the street or on the tube can still be tough at times. I’d be willing to switch places though.
Ridley hasn’t actually starred in a major stage production, but a film she starred in by the name of Ophelia took some inspiration from the Bard of Avon. Daisy Ridley starred as Ophelia in the film retelling of Hamlet from her character’s point of view. The film was released in early 2018 and as one reviewer puts it: “Shakespeare purists will revolt, high-fantasy fans will be bored and the kids who make gifs of Daisy Ridley and put them on Tumblr will wait until they can pirate this anyway.” You can’t win ‘em all.
Rey became a role model for women due to the fact that she’s a female lead in a male-dominated franchise, and Ridley is conscious of the effect she has on young girls. Ridley never expected the level of support Rey would get from female fans but says she is happy to see it, noting that social media has created a wave of women and men who are unhappy with themselves. Ridley specifically wants to avoid roles where she is only the girlfriend or some other accessory for a male character.
Ridley fits some of the British stereotypes, including a love for soccer—sorry, we mean football. She is an Arsenal fan, and as a Chelsea fan, that makes me lose some respect for her. When asked if she’d go to the dark side to help Arsenal beat their rivals, Ridley answered no, since good players can win by themselves.
Ridley has four older sisters, including two half-sisters, and praises her family for helping her to deal with the attention she gained after appearing in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Her sisters also staged a family viewing of the Star Wars films after their baby sister won the part.
31. In the Shadows
Ridley has a deaf and blind dog named Muffin, who was spotted a few times on Instagram while Ridley still used the app. Fans now have to search harder for any info or pics on the elusive rescue dog.
Although Rey from Star Wars is still Ridley’s most popular role, and the one that she is most known for, she still feels more excitement reminiscing about her first role. Ridley was a fan of the BBC series Casualty growing up so getting a small role in a 2013 episode, “And The Walls Come Tumbling Down” was a huge deal for her.
29. Shakespeare in Clear Heels
There are a lot of films about struggling artists, but there might not be that many about a poet who works in a strip club. Ridley tried her hand at portraying such a character in a short film but was fired after one week. On to better things.
28. On Tap
Ridley worked at two different London pubs for a year and a half prior to landing her role as Rey. Her bartending skills came in handy when the wrap party for The Last Jedi came around. Ridley jumped behind the bar to help out the busy staff, giving a great story to tell for any bartender she worked with.
27. In Tune
Aside from acting, Ridley can also rock a mic on stage. She starred on Barbra Streisand’s album, Streisand Encore: Movie Partners Sing Broadway. You can get the gist of the concept of the album from the title. Ridley features in “At the Ballet,” a song from the musical Chorus Line. The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams actually recommended Ridley to Streisand when he learned she was looking for a young actress to sing with. Streisand didn’t expect Ridley to be quite as good as she was, turning Streisand into an even bigger fan.
Ridley was among the 928 new members of the Oscars voting panel in 2018, inducted alongside J.K. Rowling and Daniel Kaluuya. The Oscars selected their new members with diversity in mind, wishing to avoid another #oscarsowhite controversy like the one that made headlines in 2015.
Ridley’s a lot stronger than she looks. As part of her Star Wars training, she began working with weight bags, and was able to get to a record of lifting two 80kg (176lb.) weight bags.
24. Not Quite the Casting Couch
Staying tough mentally is easier said than done for everyone, and all the public scrutiny actresses get can make their lives pretty stressful. Hence, the six months of therapy Ridley took part in following the filming of The Last Jedi. While Ridley enjoys her co-stars and filming, she was also happy to step away from it to truly process where her life was headed.
23. Never Thought of That
Ever wanted to break a sweat without worrying about messing up your hairstyle? Wear a pillowcase on your head, like Ridley did while she trained for The Force Awakens. Ridley wasn’t being a primadonna—keeping Rey’s hairstyle fresh probably saved their stylists plenty of time.
Ridley credits her accent to boarding school, where she left her “bohemian” family and was surrounded by more posh kids. Ridley left for Tring Park School for the Performing Arts in Hertfordshire at age eight, mainly because a friend previously went to boarding school and Ridley thought it sounded fun.
21. The Royal Treatment
Ridley got to meet Prince William and Prince Harry during the filming of The Last Jedi. Ridley walked the royalty through a tour of the studio, and was happy to get a chance to show off all the work done by the crew: “For the people who aren’t usually publicly recognized for the work they do, for them to have [met them] felt pretty cool for me.” Ridley admits that the meeting was pretty awkward, since she’s not good at small talk. She truly is one of us.
20. Dad, You’re Embarrassing Me
Ridley’s dad visited her on set once, and in true noob fashion, asked Mark Hamill who he plays. Thankfully, the Jedi are taught to control their emotions. Mr. Ridley is still alive but hopefully he has brushed up on his knowledge since then.
Harrison Ford may be known as the guy who accidentally punched Ryan Gosling on the set of Blade Runner 2049, but in terms of film set anecdotes, maybe we should remember him as the guy who hugged Daisy Ridley before their first scene together and said “She’s so adorable.”
Despite all the high-calibre actors Ridley has worked with, ranging from Naomi Watts to Dame Judi Dench, Ridley says that she has never been starstruck. It’s not that Ridley doesn’t like any of the people she’s met so far, she just never embraced star culture the same way the rest of us do. If she gets struck in anyway, it’s due to the character of the person she meets. Meeting Streisand wowed her due to Streisand’s kindness, not her status.
17. I Believe I Can Fly
Sometimes it’s nice to take a break from billion-dollar franchises and narrate a documentary. The Eagle Huntress tells the tale of Kazakhstan’s first female eagle hunter and Ridley first heard of the film when the director contacted Ridley’s agent, who then contacted her. Ridley initially just wished to serve as “executive producer,” which she admits doesn’t amount to much in terms of creative input. Her title mainly helped for marketing and allowed her to promote it on her social media at the time. Her role then evolved to include narration.
16. New Beginnings
Although Ridley’s interviews might ooze charisma and confidence, she has admitted that she has a hard time feeling at ease around new people. New meetings are stressful, but Ridley believes that she is getting better at it. There’s hope for all of us.
15. And Action
Some people may think voice acting is simpler than on-screen performances, but Ridley has admitted she finds voice acting tougher. Getting five minutes of narration together for The Eagle Huntress took about three hours.
14. Tell ‘Em
Daisy recalls an incident where a fan came up to her and her mother, exclaiming that she must be so proud of her daughter. Since Ridley has four other sisters, her mother was quick to say “I’m proud of all my kids.”
Like a true Hollywood cliché, Ridley had an assistant for a “hot minute.” The assistant wasn’t her idea but she accepted since it was offered. However, Ridley quickly grew to dislike the lack of independence and dropped her assistant after one day. Ridley wanted to stick to making her own decisions and having a proper handle on who she meets and where.
12. Vote of Confidence
Ridley is still working through her own version of “impostor syndrome,” especially as she branches out from her Star Wars roles. When she auditioned for her role in Murder on the Orient Express, she didn’t truly think she was good enough to get it. Upon getting the part, she asked the director if someone made him hire her, to which he responded “No f***** way.”
I don’t think it’s any coincidence that Ridley’s favourite film features its own type of Jedi. Matilda is Ridley’s favorite film and as a girl, she specifically wanted to be “the type of girl who could make a jug of water tip into a glass.” Dream come true, Ridley.
10. Sewing Circle
Sometimes you’d got to take a break from defeating Sith lords, so why not knit? Ridley revealed the art of yarn is her hidden talent so hit her up if you want a scarf, which are apparently her specialty.
9. Learn, You Will
Ridley wasn’t a Star Wars fanatic before her casting. Due to her status as a Star Wars symbol, Ridley is working on brushing up on her knowledge. While Rey might be some people’s favourite character, Ridley’s favourite character is Yoda.
8. Force Express
As part of a promotion for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Ridley and co-stars such as John Boyega appeared on limited edition stamps issued by the UK’s Royal Mail. Characters like Rey and Finn were also accompanied by older ones such as Darth Vader.
An actress’s work doesn’t end when the film’s done—they still have an active hand in the marketing for a franchise as big as Star Wars. Ridley’s contagious smile didn’t make its way to the Rey merchandise, which actually used a scan of Ridley’s face as a reference for the toys’ face. Although a lot of Rey merchandise might have a scowl because of Ridley, she is still a fan of the POP Rey bobbleheads because they’ve got, according to her, “eyebrows on fleek.”
6. A New Hope for a New Generation
Rey’s proficiency with the force, the lightsaber and her other skills have led some Star Wars fans to dub her a Mary Sue, a character with no flaws. Ridley has dismissed the claims as sexist, pointing to Luke Skywalker’s characterization in A New Hope, where he is a mechanic, a pilot and also quickly becomes a hero of the resistance.
Ridley’s Star Wars contract included three films and so far, Ridley has been adamant that she wants to wrap up her involvement once the third film is finished. Ridley says the set feels like home but also says she feels like three films will comprise a good arc for her character. However, she isn’t opposed to rejoining decades later, just like Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill did for their respective roles.
4. Graphic Novel
The Force Awakens was actually Ridley’s second feature film. The first was Scrawl, a film where a boy realizes the events in the comic he’s creating are happening in real life. The film didn’t get a major release back in 2015 but has gained more attention after one of its stars hit it big, with the rights purchased back in December and a bigger release allegedly slated for sometime this year.
3. Power Through
Ridley opened up on Instagram about her battle with endometriosis, a chronic condition where the tissue that lines the uterus grows outside the uterus. Ridley has said her condition is improving due to a new doctor and dietary changes. The diagnosis came when Ridley was 15 years old and she has undergone surgery and a wave of other treatments, including antibiotics. Ridley also confessed that the resultant acne made her more self conscious.
2. Sage Wisdom
Carrie Fisher, may she rest in peace, gave Daisy Ridley some advice before she passed away. One of the nuggets of information that Fisher passed along is that dating becomes much more difficult once you’re a star, mainly because people see you as a conquest, even more than they normally would: “You don’t want to give people the ability to say, ‘I had sex with Princess Leia.’” Good looking out, Fisher.
1. Rushing or Dragging
I remember reading articles saying that Ridley’s acting wasn’t quite J.J. Abrams’ tempo. Although Ridley got the hang of things eventually, her first day was a particularly rough one. Ridley’s first scene was one where Rey is walking with BB-8. Abrams let Ridley know her acting was wooden, which was somewhat tame, since he isn’t afraid to say “don’t f*** it up” when dealing with actors. Once Ridley got more relaxed, she was good to go.