Daisy Ridley

Daisy Ridley on why, despite Star Wars, she’s still just a normal girl 

Words: Alexander Kern 
Photo: Getty Images   

The Force is strong with this one. With her role in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Daisy Ridley has gone from nobody to superstar. But this wasn’t always her dream: the tap dancing English actress actually wanted to be a zookeeper… 

Is it true that you’re not really into modern pop culture, but you love art?

DAISY RIDLEY: We’re very much an art family, that’s probably why I love it so much. My father is a photographer, my sister is a model, and my two stepsisters are also heavily involved in that world. We’re definitely not massive fans of anything to do with pop culture.

Was that boring as a child?

Not really. As a child I never really loved any kind of music or films, and they never influenced me in any way either. The greatest moments were when my father took me to art galleries. Art was always our thing. 

© YouTube//Star Wars

So I suppose I don’t need to ask you about how Star Wars influenced you?

Let me put it this way: before shooting this film, Star Wars was like a distant cousin. I knew he existed, but we didn’t see each other very often. Star Wars may be massive, but the force wasn’t very strong in our family. My father loves science fiction, but he once admitted to me that he’s more of a Star Trek fan anyway!

Daisy Ridley

© @daisyridley//Instagram 

Don’t mention that at any fan conventions! Despite not having much association with the franchise, it must have still felt like winning the lottery when you were given the role?

I don’t know if I would describe it as a jackpot really. It’s a huge responsibility and you really feel the weight of expectation on your shoulders.

But you’re a massive star thanks to this film…

I don’t think of myself as a star. I’m just a very normal girl.

That is all about to change though, don’t you think?

I don’t know. I never really wanted to be famous, but I always wanted to be successful. There are certain jobs where the both of these go hand in hand, like acting, sports and politics – and it’s crazy. But there is nothing I can really do about it, I just feel really sorry for my friends who have to see my face on the cover of every magazine in the country. They are going to be sick of seeing me (laughs.)

That’s what happens when you become an actress.

It wasn’t even what I wanted to do as a child. Many kids dream of being a famous actor, but not me. I was a very cheeky rascal, and my mom just chose a couple of courses that she thought I would enjoy, probably to use up all my excess energy.

What did you want to be instead?

I wanted to be a zookeeper because I love monkeys. I started a course to get my qualifications a few years ago, but I had to take a break because filming became a priority. I plan to complete my courses next year.

Is that your plan B?

No, I definitely want to carry on acting, despite the fact that my first audition for Star Wars was absolutely dreadful! I never thought I’d get the role, and I still have doubts as to whether I am the right person for the role. In fact, I literally questioned it every day through the whole of the shoot. I left the set everyday with doubts in my mind

“When I got the part I was told that I wasn’t allowed to tell anyone for three months!” 

But after a very long selection process you were finally given the role.

I had to wait seven months for confirmation. I was really fortunate that they wanted a complete unknown for the role. When I got the part was told that I wasn’t allowed to tell anyone for three months! Only my mom and sister knew. My other sister, who lives in Australia now, had no idea at all!

“There is nothing too crazy that I can tell you about myself. Unfortunately, I am extremely average!” 

And now you’re friends with Harrison Ford. What do you call him? Harrison? Mr. Ford? Indiana?

(laughs.) Harrison of course! Thankfully, I got the chance to meet him and the rest of the team before we started shooting. You really realize the scale of the situation when you’re sitting next to Han Solo all of a sudden! My heart was pounding with excitement. I was so nervous.

You were nervous? You normally appear so tough.

On the outside perhaps. I look like I do a lot of sport I guess. It has a lot to do with my broad shoulders – I’m built like a swimmer (laughs.) Training for the film didn’t help that either. Three months of climbing, fighting and stunts for five hours a day can have an effect on you.

You could probably take on anyone right now then?

Oh my God, that is my biggest fear – that someone will come up to me in the street and want to fight. I’m really paranoid when it comes to those kinds of things. I detest violence. The first time I saw Reservoir Dogs for example, I really thought I was going to be sick. I get ill when I see people fighting. I could probably defend myself, but I really hope I never have to.

Let’s finish on something a little different. What do you like to do in your free time?

I like to tap dance, but only once a week. I only recently found my tap shoes again and had to have a little dance to celebrate. Apart from that there is nothing too crazy that I can tell you about myself. Unfortunately, I am extremely average! 

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