Making it and breaking it in Hollywood sometimes boils down to the next audition, the next fortuitous meeting, the next tape. A couple of years ago, Daisy Ridley was just one young actress making the rounds, paying her rent with wages made at a London pub, but then the magic happened. The west London native, youngest of five sisters, had recently wrapped a string of British TV roles when she got the chance to audition for a little sci-fi picture set in a galaxy far, far away.
From the moment news of her casting in J.J. Abrams’s Star Wars: Episode VII—The Force Awakens hit last year, the then-unknown became an object of fan obsession. And, despite the deep secrecy with which the re-ignition of George Lucas’s great saga has been treated, one gets the sense that Ridley is on the verge. What the world has seen so far of the 23-year-old, most of it in character, as Rey, a tanned warrior outfitted in desert garb, is just the beginning of the life-altering rise for the young actress.
But despite the action figures already being made in her likeness and the merchandise that promises to make her a household name, Ridley seems devoted to keeping her cool. As she tells her Force Awakens co-star, Princess Leia herself, Carrie Fisher, Ridley doesn’t know exactly what’s to come, but she’s ready.
CARRIE FISHER: We finally made it into interview mode, our destiny. Where are you?
DAISY RIDLEY: I’m in the car. I just got back from the airport in Berlin.
FISHER: Why were you in Berlin?
RIDLEY: I was doing press there, meeting all the lovely Germans.
FISHER: Are they embarrassed with the whole thing with Volkswagen? They have to recall, like, 200 million of them.
RIDLEY: I didn’t ask them about their Volkswagens. [laughs]
FISHER: I think you should. This is what I can teach you. This is how I make friends in foreign countries: Ask them about the biggest scandal since Fascism. Well, all right. I’m going to ask you questions, as the older person. Who were your role models as a child?
RIDLEY: Acting ones, or just people?
FISHER: I’ll go with both. I feel like we’re on Password.
RIDLEY: Well, my favorite film was Matilda . So I’m going to say the little girl [Mara Wilson] in that. I aspired to be like her. [laughs] I wanted to be a girl who could make a jug of water tip into a glass.
FISHER: Did you see old movies?
RIDLEY: My film knowledge is pretty shocking. I’m trying to correct that.
FISHER: I can help you with that. Not that that’s what you really want from me … [laughs] I actually did a show called On the Lot. I was supposed to be someone who knew about film, and I knew about two directors, and spent about three months watching every foreign film.
RIDLEY: Send the list of films you watched, and I’ll spend three months watching them all.
FISHER: So what actors do you like now? Besides me, of course.
RIDLEY: Of course you. Carey Mulligan and Felicity Jones are two of my favorites. I’m not so much younger than them. I like that. It’s kind of aspirational.
FISHER: And males? Any crushes?
RIDLEY: Not really! I’ve never been one for crushing on famous people.
FISHER: Cary Grant! Do you know who that is?
RIDLEY: Maybe I could appreciate the old-school film stars more.
FISHER: Because they were glamorous.
RIDLEY: Exactly. And mysterious.
FISHER: Actors today need to be too accessible. Who can have a crush on someone accessible? [laughs] The origin of the word romance is “not founded in reality.”
RIDLEY: People have been asking me about crushes out of the original film, and I say you every time. They were like, “Is there anyone you particularly look up to?” And I’m like, “Well, Carrie, obviously.”
FISHER: That’s good. You didn’t like Mark [Hamill] or Harrison [Ford]? This is the only time we’d ever have this conversation. [laughs]
RIDLEY: Of course, I like them both! But you’re a kick-ass woman.
FISHER: I’m your predecessor, I think.
RIDLEY: Exactly. You paved the way for all the girls.
FISHER: It was my gravel! Girl gravel! Girl-vel! So what did they ask you in Berlin?
RIDLEY: Mainly I’m asked how I got the role, did I like Star Wars before, and am I ready for what’s to come.
FISHER: And what do you say? Yes, yes, yes?
RIDLEY: I say, “I auditioned for the role because everyone did. I was there at the right time.”
FISHER: You were telling me about it! You auditioned five times or something?
RIDLEY: Yeah. I liked Star Wars, but I wasn’t an überfan like many people are. Which I didn’t realize, actually, until this year. I don’t know if I can prepare for what’s to come because I don’t know what will.
FISHER: How would you not be ready? How can you prepare for what’s to come in life? You should ask them back. I would be interested in that answer.
RIDLEY: I mean, I don’t know what’s to come. They also ask if you guys gave us any advice. You didn’t. Except for—
FISHER: Wait a minute! You said I didn’t? You fucker! We were at that first party, that horrifying thing that I was always late to …
RIDLEY: And you talked about stalkers?
FISHER: I said, “fans.” I didn’t just say “stalkers”! Fans are awesome.
RIDLEY: Oh, yeah. I have talked about that.
FISHER: The fan thing is amazing! It’s quite a spectrum. What else did I say?
RIDLEY: I remember you saying that when you take pictures with people, you can feel their heart racing, and it humanizes them.
FISHER: Aw. I also said it’s hard to date once you’re a big Star Wars star because you don’t want to give people the ability to say, “I had sex with Princess Leia.”
RIDLEY: [laughs] Now I remember.
FISHER: Ah! I thought I shocked you. [both laugh]
RIDLEY: Someone asked me if I found it easier to date now because I’m in the film. I was like, “What the hell?”
FISHER: What a stupid question.
RIDLEY: Oh my God. I’m in the car right now next to a Jedi robe in a Star Wars shop. It’s next to McDonald’s and a kebab shop. How weird is that?
FISHER: So it’s McStar Wars. I didn’t know there was a Star Wars shop. I haven’t seen myself as a wax figure. I guess you haven’t either, so I’ll be able to go do that, and then I’ll give you advice. Like, “Bring a match.” Or something.
RIDLEY: [laughs] Oh my God.
FISHER: That’s good advice! Did you know they’ve come out with Star Wars Band-Aids?
RIDLEY: Are there?
FISHER: Yes, I just saw them. They sent me a Star Wars suitcase … Daisy, will you do me a favor?
RIDLEY: Of course. What can I do?
FISHER: I want you and I to go to Vegas with all the swag and act like we’re normal people carrying Star Wars suitcases that they just sent me—hats, dresses… We will be put in a mental asylum, but it will be a very popular one after we get there. Will you consider that?
RIDLEY: [laughs] That sounds like the best plan, actually. I’m down.
FISHER: You think that’s a joke! It’s going along with being merchandized. You can’t just merchandize us; we’ll merchandize you right back! Have they shown you any little dolls of you yet?
RIDLEY: Yeah! I got sent some.
FISHER: How many are there?
RIDLEY: Someone said today there were four, but I’m not sure.
FISHER: Do they come with outfits and stuff?
RIDLEY: No, there’s just one.
FISHER: Oh my God, you’re going to be a Halloween costume. How do you feel about that?
RIDLEY: I’ve seen some really cute kids dressed as Rey. I love that.
FISHER: My favorite is when you see, like, a month-old kid dressed as you, so that it looks like the mother swallowed your outfit when she was pregnant, and the baby came out like that. Now I get to have someone to talk about it with—you!
RIDLEY: We can just go to Vegas with all of our Star Wars swag and a one-month-old baby.
FISHER: We’ll have the best rooms in that fucking asylum. And we’ll have the best doctors.
RIDLEY: [laughs] I can’t wait.
FISHER: Oh, you’re going to have people have fantasies about you! That will make you uncomfortable, I’m guessing.
RIDLEY: Yeah, a bit.
FISHER: Have you been asked that?
RIDLEY: No, they always talk about how you’re a sex symbol, and how do I feel about that. [Fisher sighs] I’m not a sex symbol! [laughs]
FISHER: Listen! I am not a sex symbol, so that’s an opinion of someone. I don’t share that.
RIDLEY: I don’t think that’s the right—
FISHER: Word for it? Well, you should fight for your outfit. Don’t be a slave like I was.
RIDLEY: All right, I’ll fight.
FISHER: You keep fighting against that slave outfit.
RIDLEY: I will.
FISHER: I’m looking forward to your space kiss.
RIDLEY: My space kiss?
FISHER: You’re going to have to have one. Every girl does.
RIDLEY: [laughs] At this point, we’ll wait and see, I guess.
FISHER: This is what we’ll really talk about in Vegas. Is your mom excited? Are your sisters?
RIDLEY: I think so. My sister loves the movies.
FISHER: She looks a lot like you, doesn’t she?
RIDLEY: Yeah. People are going to think she’s me.
FISHER: Oh my God. And Keira Knightley. You just ruined her career. [laughs] Oh! I just got handed some pajamas that neither one of us is on. I think we should really get upset about certain things like this. It’s not sexist, but space-ist.
RIDLEY: When we’re in Vegas, we should also do a campaign about the space-ist Star Wars films.
FISHER: Totally! Wow, we’ve got a big trip planned.
RIDLEY: We’ll have a big billboard. It’s going to take a while.
CARRIE FISHER IS AN ACTOR AND SCREENWRITER WHO HAS STARRED IN STAR WARS, THE BLUES BROTHERS, AND WHEN HARRY MET SALLY, AND THE AUTHOR OF THE BOOK AND SCREENPLAY POSTCARDS FROM THE EDGE. SHE IS CURRENTLY AT WORK ON A NEW BOOK.