She’s no Princess Leia—but that’s a good thing, as Star Wars‘ newest strong female lead Rey is feisty, smart, and determined in her own right. Her background remains shrouded in mystery, even with some of the answers we got in The Last Jedi. Needless to say, our interest is piqued in this junk salvager from Jakku. Here are 24 facts about this powerful woman. Some spoilers for The Last Jedi ahead.
22. Change Of Name
Rey almost wasn’t Rey: previous versions of the character were known as Sally, Rachel, and Kira. Sally and Rachel were likely placeholders, but Kira lasted right up until they began shooting, and was changed after it leaked to the public.
21. Breakout Role
Prior to being cast as Rey in The Force Awakens, Daisy Ridley was not really known in Hollywood and had only done small roles on television and film. According to Ridley, she auditioned several times over many months, and had to keep it a secret.
20. A Jedi of a Different Color
Many fans have speculated that Rey may be what is known as a gray Jedi: someone who can walk between both sides of the force without choosing either side. This concept was originally developed for Star Wars Legends, and these users of the Force don’t follow the rules set forth by the Jedi Council.
19. A Lucky Rescue
BB-8 is saved from a Teedo thanks to Rey, but this wasn’t necessarily a heroic at. According to Rey’s diary, she didn’t save the adorable droid to rescue him, she was simply trying to drive home a point to the Teedo: stay off my turf! Little did she know how important this droid was for her future.
Rey taught herself to fly from a simulator she made from salvaged parts. This explains why she’s not half bad at flying the Millennium Falcon in The Force Awakens (and even better in The Last Jedi).
17. Young Blood
When we first meet her on Jakku in The Force Awakens, Rey is only 19; according to The Force Awakens Visual Dictionary, she was born 15 years after the events of A New Hope. That’s quite young to be pulled into the galaxy’s biggest battle!
16. Blood Relatives?
This age discredits the theory that Kylo Ren and Rey are twins (Han and Leia had twins in the Expanded Universe), as Ren is 29 during The Force Awakens.
15. Hitting The Gym
Ridley trained for four hours a day, four times a week to prepare for her role as a badass space scavenger. She got to work with a fight choreographer from Game of Thrones and mastered Bojutsu, kickboxing, and climbing. Now we know how Ridley was able to master handling a staff and lightsaber!
14. Not Just a Childhood Treasure
In The Force Awakens, we catch a quick glimpse of a doll in the corner of Rey’s home. This doll is actually a childhood relic of hers: When she was little, she found a helmet that belonged to Captain Dosmit Raeh, a female Rebel pilot. Rey grew up idolizing Raeh, and ended up making a doll based on her.
13. Flower Child
Rey collects flowers: as she says in Rey’s Survival Guide, “I have a few things at home to help me pass the time. I collect flowers–spinebarrel blooms and nightblossoms–and display them to remind myself that there’s beauty everywhere if you look hard enough, even on Jakku.”
12. Skywalker Connection
When George Lucas finished working on the second draft of A New Hope, it dawned on him that there were almost no major female characters, and he tried to rewrite Luke Skywalker as a woman. Concept artist Ralph McQuarrie made a sketch for the change, but it obviously never came to life. Nonetheless, Rey’s outfit on Jakku was inspired by this sketch, particularly her goggles.
11. No Toys For You
Young fans were immediately drawn to Rey as soon as she made her film debut. Unfortunately for parents, Hasbro did not feature her in their Star Wars toy line, and focused instead on Kylo Ren and Finn. The few Rey toys had her cloaked and masked, disgusting all of her feminine characteristics. Thankfully, she is featured heavily in The Last Jedi toy line.
It was never fully explained in The Force Awakens how Rey can speak the same language as wookies and droids. If you happen to read the accompanying material to the movies, Rey’s Survival Guide and The Force Awakens: Rey’s Story, they state that Rey picked up the languages through salvaged computer tapes.
9. Well Liked
Critics went wild for Rey (and Ridley). A journalist at The Wall Street Journal called her “a woman warrior with the stylish ferocity of a kung-fu star,” adding that “It’s hard to imagine what the movie—and the sequels to come—might have been if they’d cast the wrong person, but here Daisy Ridley is in all her unassuming glory, and all’s right with the galaxy.”
8. Unique Hairstyle
Star Wars’ leading ladies are well known for their hairstyles. First came Queen Amidala, with her elaborate styles, and then Princess Leia’s iconic cinnamon buns. Rey’s three bun hairstyle in The Last Jedi feels very much like a nod to General Organa.
7. Award Winner
Who says fictional characters can’t win awards? Rey is actually the first fictional recipient of the Reel Women in Technology Award. (Fictional) Girl power!
6. First Day Jitters
While on her first press tour, Ridley admitted she was so nervous on the first day of filming that she almost had a panic attack: “I was petrified. I thought I was gonna have a panic attack on the first day. J.J. Abrams …. he probably doesn’t remember telling me that my performance was wooden. This was my first day! And I honestly wanted to die. I thought I was gonna cry, I couldn’t breathe.”
5. She Can Read Minds
During their brief encounter in The Force Awakens, Rey actually turns the tables on Kylo Ren and reads his mind while he is invading hers. She informs him of his deepest fear: “You’re afraid…that you’ll never be as a powerful as Darth Vader.” Talk about awkward.
4. First of Her Kind
With The Last Jedi, Rey has become the first lead female Jedi in the film series.
3. Gear Head
Screenwriter Michael Arndt described the character that would become Rey as a “loner, hothead, gear-head, badass” woman.
When casting Ridley as Rey, Abrams was actually attracted to Ridley’s inexperience, untested potential and—very important for the secretive Abrams—her lack of exposure as an actress.
1. The New Luke?
Although Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy has stated that “Rey is the new generation’s Luke Skywalker,” Rey is her own person, and one Vox journalist has pointed out that “Rey is considerably less callow than Luke.” Rey is also characterized by her optimism in the face of hardship, while Luke has become somewhat hardened.