Right now, the world is divided into two kinds of people: those feeling the Force, and those (insignificant) few who don’t care what that means. Yet even some among the latter group will by now recognise the name Daisy Ridley: from posters, trailers and ads on public transport. When Star Wars: The Force Awakens hits cinemas on Thursday, the 23-year-old London actress is going to be catapulted into intergalactic stardom of a sort few of us could imagine.
If, this time last year, you had recognised Ridley, it would probably have been because you were a regular at the Union Tavern in west London, where she used to pull pints. Her acting highlights featured a bit part in Casualty, a Wiley music video and a Morrisons ad. She was fired from her first job with an acting workshop “because I was rubbish”, and landed a role in the E4 series Youngers, only to have most of the part cut. Still, Ridley grins — as humble as she is game — all of that was “character-building”, adding, “I really do think everything led to here.”
She is funny, self-deprecating, easygoing and down to earth; within minutes we are chatting away as though we’re BFFs catching up, rather than meeting in a soulless suite at London’s Langham hotel as part of the obligatory press carousel. You wouldn’t guess that this is a girl who has her own action doll and who, next weekend, will have her face projected on giant screens across the UK in one of the most hotly anticipated film releases in years. Or that everywhere keyboards are tapping with the gossip of chat rooms, the speculations of Star Wars fans and the curiosity of moviegoers Googling her Star Wars character, Rey, desperate to work out who she is, and whether the rumours are true that finally Star Wars has a genuine heroine — a far cry from the days when Carrie Fisher was told to lose 10lb and wear a sexy “slave” bikini.
If Ridley is easygoing, perhaps it’s because her life hasn’t changed — yet. The youngest of five, she lives in west London with her sister and spends her days watching Netflix with her dog, Muffin. “I have the most boring life,” she says. Apparently engaged to her boyfriend, the actor Charlie Hamblett, she says she’d “rather not talk about my private life”. Fair enough, given that she thinks “celebrity culture is quite scary” and is relieved she doesn’t get recognised. For now. Rather optimistically, she’s not sure she ever will. “I don’t look like this every day,” she says. “I don’t have people spending hours on my hair and face and giving me designer dresses to wear. I’m usually going to the gym on the bus.”
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