“Carrie Fisher told me to ‘enjoy everything and apologize for nothing.’ I think that’s pretty cool advice,” says actor Daisy Ridley. The 25-year-old British actor has an impressive filmography, which has seen her in films alongside Hollywood greats from Fisher and Harrison Ford in Star Wars: The Force Awakens to Johnny Depp and Dame Judi Dench in Murder On The Orient Express.
While working with such luminaries can be daunting, the confident Londoner takes it all in her stride, seizing the opportunity to learn from her contemporaries. “One thing I will always remember is Harrison addressing the cast and crew as he finished filming his last ever scenes in Star Wars,” she recalls in a nonchalant manner. “It was a hugely poignant moment. Here was one of the greatest actors ever, filming his last scenes as one of cinema’s most iconic characters – and I was privileged enough to hear this great speech he was giving. That’s not something you experience every day.”
Starring in one of the world’s most famous cinema franchises, Ridley could be forgiven if she let fame get to her head. But that’s not the case, with the star humbly revealing that she is grateful for her roles and prefers to shy away from the attention, choosing instead to concentrate on perfecting her art form.
“What I have taken away from working with these huge stars more than anything is just how professional and hungry they are to still make amazing movies,” she says. “There are no egos at all – just people who, after being in the industry for so many years and achieving everything there is to achieve, are still so professional. That’s pretty humbling to see.”
Despite being plucked from relative obscurity at 21 and being catapulted into galactic fame as Rey in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Daisy has a rather embarrassing confession to make: she wasn’t always a fan of the space movie franchise. “Growing up, I was aware of the mythology and popularity surrounding Star Wars – but no, it’s not like I was the biggest Star Wars fan,” she coyly admits. “Of course, I have now more than made up for it!”
Fans will be quick to pardon the star, whose character is a strong hero with plenty of sass. For Star Wars: The Last Jedi, she undertook intense training to perfect the gung ho and determined Rey.
“I worked out a lot,” she says. “My routine included gym work, lots of climbing, kickboxing – it was pretty hardcore. I was kickboxing at least four days a week. It’s a pretty good workout. It’s intense, and not boring like straight-up cardio. I would totally recommend it.”
At her fittest, Ridley could lift an impressive 80kg, and she certainly needed that strength with the famous lightsaber, which is said to weigh a hefty 5kg. “They’re unbelievably heavy,” laughs Daisy, pointing out that the film version is not like the plastic toys in stores. “Obviously they’re really cool,” she quickly adds. “I know they glide elegantly on screen – but you would not believe the weight of them.”
While she might spend most of her time in Los Angeles and London, Ridley retains her very British honest charm and candid attitude. During her Vogue US “73 Questions” video, she happily poured herself a cup of her favorite Earl Grey tea, with honey and no milk. It’s her desire to remain as “normal’” as is possible for a star of a mega film series that saw her recently delete her Instagram account. “I said before that social media can be great but it can also be a bit scary,” she explains, also citing the fact that she shies away from growing up in public.
Her role in Kenneth Branagh’s highly anticipated film adaption of Agatha Christie’s Murder On The Orient Express certainly won’t help detract attention from the ever-rising star. There’s no denying, however, that while the self-confessed tomboy might struggle with unwanted attention (“hugs from my mom always help”), dressing up in the 1930s era wardrobe was an absolute treat. “The costumes are super-elegant, the hair and makeup beautiful, the set stunning – the end result looks amazing.”
Her look in the mystery crime film couldn’t have been further removed from her outfits on Star Wars where, according to costume designer Michael Kaplan, director JJ Abrams wanted her look to be mysterious: “We don’t know if she is a man, woman, or alien.” The materials are desert-like and protective; “the clothes are beautiful and blow in the wind.”
Part of Star Wars: The Last Jedi was shot in the Abu Dhabi, a place Ridley often waxes lyrical about in interviews. “We stayed at this incredible hotel in the middle of the desert – it was absolutely stunning,” she says. Travel is the biggest perk of her career, she adds. “It’s one of the most amazing things about this job – you discover new places. I would have never had stayed in that hotel if it hadn’t been for Star Wars.”
Her nicknames are Day, Baby, and Dazzle but it’s the latter title that really resonates with Ridley’s personality. Her glowing demeanor and positive attitude is infectious. “I like to think I have a pretty good outlook on life,” she says. And that she does, with life coming up roses (or should we say daisies) for the actor. We think the late Carrie Fisher would’ve definitely approved.