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My #StarWarsEvent coverage continues this week and I have some amazing interviews to share with you. If you’re catching up, you might want to check out my photo tour of the STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS press event, and my exclusive interview with Harrison Ford.
Today I’m sharing my interview with the female star of the film, Daisy Ridley. She plays Rey in the movie and has been described by Producer Kathleen Kennedy as ‘the new generation’s Luke Skywalker.’ So we’ve got ourselves a hero, girls! (Though Rey is going to appeal to men, women, boys, and girls. She’s amazing!)
Daisy is a beautiful young girl (23 years old) and was very sweet, very lighthearted to talk to. She is from England and speaks with a British accent full of humor and awe about her role in this film franchise. I love what she had to say about this movie appealing to people who aren’t necessarily hard core fans, her sister’s interesting (and oh-so-sisterly!) show of support, and the characteristics she shares with her character, Rey.
Enjoy the interview! (Thank you to Louise from Momstart.com for the photos taken during our interview.)
Q : When we were talking to Kathleen Kennedy earlier today, she referred to Rey, your character, as the new generation’s Luke Skywalker. How do you feel about that and what do you think this means to girls coming up in this generation that are going to see the film for the first time?
Daisy: Well, it’s weird. Because I didn’t think of myself in those terms when I was doing it, because I think that might have been slightly overwhelming. But now I can 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 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 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.
Q: You mentioned Mulan as your walk-up song. Are there other characters or female roles in the movies that you kind of thought about when playing Rey?
Daisy: 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, 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- and meet people who bring the best out of you. I can definitely see those parallels.
Q: Did you realize how far reaching the Star Wars franchise is?
Daisy: 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, 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.
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.
Q: What’s it like to see yourself as an action figure?
Daisy: 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. So I Instagrammed my reaction because only my dog was there, my dog was like what up? And so I kind of put everything away and like in the suitcase, and then I came back the next day and there were figures everywhere. My sister and I live together, I was like, what are you doing. Put them away, that is so weird. I just moved out and she was like, oh my god, I can make the flat a shrine to you.
Q Are you going to seek out anymore versions of yourself?
Daisy: 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.
Q : Can you tell us a little about, about your audition process?
Daisy: 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.
I was like, I can’t be an hour early, so I went to a coffee shop to like 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 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 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. 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. Luckily I got the role. So that was a good ending.
Q: What characteristics of Rey do you see in yourself?
Daisy: 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 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. I’m brave and honest and open. Like 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.
Q: What was it like for you to see yourself in this film or trailers?
Daisy: It’s weird because I kind of thought I’d feel like- when I watched the trailer – I thought I’d feel like that 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 it would 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. After like an hour 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.
I would be fine and then suddenly it hits you and the tears come and- and you don’t know why you’re doing it. And then it kind of settles again and then you remember that you were 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. 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.
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. I still grapple with the fact that that it is happening.
Q: So you play a very strong female lead in the movie. So do you have a good takeaway for young girls?
Daisy: Yeah. I think I’ve been very lucky in my life to be able to look up to incredible women. 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 kind of formed ours. I remember when I was auditioning, I met Kathy and I didn’t really understand who she was at that point. That’s obviously embarrassing now. 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.
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.
Q: What kind of background do you have? Do you have any projects coming up?
Daisy: I went to a performing arts school and on the musical theater course. The thing that was difficult 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 wish I sounded like I think I know I could sound. But I don’t have the time to work on it at the moment.
Q: If you had a light saber, what color would it be?
Daisy: In normal life, I feel like it would be a disco ball. 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.
STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS Full Press Conference Part #1
You can hear more from Daisy Ridley during the press conference on the video above.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens Trailer
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