Daisy Ridley was a fresh face to director J.J. Abrams, who needed to cast a leading character in a film destined to be a blockbuster: Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Ridley had no major motion picture experience and very little television experience. Most of her work was in theater and even that was limited.
She had to prove herself.
As Rolling Stone described, and this video shows, while auditioning for a very emotional moment, Ridley delivered.
“Director J.J. Abrams tasked the relatively unknown actress with reading from a difficult scene in which Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) interrogates and tortures Ridley’s character, Rey. Not only was Ridley able to channel a visceral combination of anger and fear on command — she did it multiple times as Abrams gave her notes.”
Abrams said of Ridley’s performance, “She just blew my mind.”
“She’s reaching this depth of struggle and tears are streaming down her face, I thought, ‘This is unbelievable.'”
According to Ridley, that all changed on the first day of filming. An article by CinemaBlend tells how the hammer came down.
“J.J.… probably doesn’t remember telling me that my performance was wooden. This was the first day! And I honestly wanted to die. I thought I was gonna cry. I couldn’t breathe. And there was so many crew there, because obviously all the creatures [had stand-ins], and there were loads of extra crew making sure everyone was safe because it was so hot. It was awful.”
— Vyva Entertainment (@VyvaEnt) March 30, 2016
Of course, that all changed after her first day on set. And, after all, it was her first day on set! Early reviews of Ridley’s performance were posted on Hollywood Life.
“…Ridley, in a doozie of a breakout role, is terrific as a young woman not yet sure what to make of the powerfully beckoning Force, or of the glorious and terrifying destiny that might await her. She may not yet have the heroic stature of a Katniss Everdeen, but future movies will surely tell.” -Variety
“the real star of the show – a show which makes rather a point of championing women’s strength over men – is Keira Knightley lookalike Daisy Ridley. Resourceful and sexy, like the principal boy in a pantomime, she plays the heroic Rey, a scavenger from the arid planet Jakku. And despite all the excellent battle sequences, one of the most tense confrontations is a psychological showdown between her and Ren. Ridley has rather sweetly said that landing the role of Rey did not feel as seismic as getting her first decent acting part, on BBC1’s Casualty. Nonetheless, her spirited performance here, which includes a lightsaber fight in a forest that is the equal of any duel between Errol Flynn and Basil Rathbone, is certain to send her career into orbit.” – Daily Mail
“British actress Daisy Ridley is terrific as Rey, a spunky junk scavenger on a desert planet who becomes a major player on a much larger stage—and provides young female Star Wars fans a rockin’ role model the likes of which they’ve never had before.” – Parade
Daisy’s audition clip is part of a documentary which will accompany the film’s upcoming DVD release, Rolling Stone said.
“The home editions boast a bevy of bonus features, including deleted scenes and a documentary chronicling the making of the film. Featurettes on the first Force Awakens table read, the making of BB-8 and other new creatures and an in-depth look at the climactic lightsaber fight between Rey and Kylo Ren will also be available.”
Production for the next movie in the franchise began in February. Rian Johnson is directing the as-yet-untitled Episode VIII. According to Entertainment Weekly Adam Driver talked about the two directors.
“Their temperaments are different. I feel like there was so many moving pieces in the first one — just trying to solve it and set the vocabulary for what it was. There’s a lot of that anxiety that’s gone, because people have developed a language. I think it’s more of a testament to Rian coming into something very established and making it [his own]. I can’t wait to get on set, just because he’s so unassuming and intelligent and approachable. The script they’ve come up with is really great.”
The Force Awakens arrives on DVD and Blu-ray April 5.
[Image via Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP]