What Daisy Ridley Learned in Lightsaber School

The actress reveals her neon-martial arts training for 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi.'

October 12, 2017 5:00 am

According to Daisy Ridley, lightsabers are really heavy, probably anywhere from three to five kilos, and the weight is unevenly distributed. So Ridley, who plays the heroine Rey in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, told Vogue about taking a kind of “neon martial-arts training” for the new movie. So essentially, she went to lightsaber school.

Ridley, 25, grew up in West London with two older sisters, and told Vogue that she was a “little tomboy.” She was, and still is, an avid reader, and didn’t really know she wanted to act until she was 17.

When Ridley accepted the role in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, director J.J. Abrams warned her: “This is not a role in a movie. This is a religion for people. It changes things on a level that is inconceivable.” She eagerly accepted, but told Vogue that “you don’t know what you’re getting into.”

Ridley’s character Rey is effectively the female Luke Skywalker: a scavenger who lives in a desert outpost, but she is “strong with the Force — untrained but stronger than she knows.” Abrams wanted an unknown actor for the role, so that she was not already associated with any other character. According to Vogue, he found Ridley to be “an emotional person, a true person, a funny-as-hell person.” Abrams also wanted someone that the audience could feel like they could know. According to Vogue, Abrams said that Ridley came in and “her face was expressive and wide-eyed and lovely, and it was so clear.”

Ridley auditioned multiple times over the course of seven months, all with fake scripts, until the final reading. She only understood the size of the role when she was offered the job. “When I read the full script,” she told Vogue, “I was like, ‘Holy shit.’”


Daisy Ridley
Daisy Ridley in Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens (Lucas FIlms)

The new movie is shrouded in secrecy, but Ridley did mention that we will find out more about what happened to her family, and it goes from being a physical journey with Finn to an emotional journey with Luke Skywalker. At the end of The Force Awakens, Rey meets Luke at the top of a mountainous island.

Before getting the role, Ridley was saying she was almost done with acting and was working at a pub. But Rian Johnson, who wrote The Last Jedi, says that she has “extraordinary talent, that has seemingly come out of nowhere, and I think Daisy’s just starting to scratch the surface of her skills,” according to Vogue. 

Ridley speaks openly about how she started to lose herself when everyone began to recognize her after The Force Awakens, and how she started to see a therapist. That frankness and openness is part of what makes her a “force beyond nature.” Johnson told Vogue she “has that magical thing that great actors have where they can take honest emotion and, without diluting it, shape it to what the scene requires.”

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