Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is hitting theaters in a few short days, and it’s time for fans to brush up on everything there is to know about the saga’s latest installment — starting with leading lady Daisy Ridley. We rounded up 16 things about Daisy Ridley that you probably didn’t know, from how she got her start in acting to the career paths she nearly pursued instead. (Plus: did you know she’s recorded a song with Barbra Streisand?!)
As the release date for Rise of Skywalker approaches, Ridley has been on a press tour for the film, sharing behind-the-scenes details like her spectacularly weird wrap gift from director J.J. Abrams. “There’s a show called The Great British Bake-Off,” Ridley told host Jimmy Kimmel while making a guest appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live! “Me and J.J. love this particular contestant, who will remain unnamed. But J.J. had made me a real, life-size mask of the contestant that fits on my head.”
As evidenced by this hilarious gift swap, Ridley has nothing but good things to say about the process of working with Abrams. She recently told Cinema Blend that she shot down one of Abrams’s early ideas for Rise of Skywalker, and marveled at the collaborative atmosphere that allowed her to speak up like that: “I will say the great thing about J.J. is I’ve felt authority like that from the get go,” she explained. “Even me never having done anything remotely like that before.”
“He always listened to what I had to say,” Ridley mused, joking: “Even if for the most part it’s wrong.”
Catch Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker in theaters starting Dec. 20, 2019.
A version of this article was originally published in April 2016.
She’s been acting since age 9
Ridley has been performing since she was young. In her early years, she won a scholarship to Tring Park School for the Performing Arts in Hertfordshire, which she attended between the ages of 9 and 18.
She got her start in TV
Before her transition to the big screen, Ridley had minor roles in TV shows like Youngers, Toast of London, Silent Witness, Mr Selfridge and Casualty.
She had an intense ‘Star Wars’ audition
Footage from one of Ridley’s auditions made its way to the Internet, and it’s clear that the process for nabbing the coveted part of Rey wasn’t a walk in the park. In the footage, Ridley had to act out an intense scene that required her to cry on demand — multiple times in a row.
J.J. Abrams made her cry
Making your feature film debut in a huge blockbuster like Star Wars isn’t easy, as Ridley recalled to Glamour in January 2016. On her very first day of filming, she says, she was almost reduced to tears by the film’s director, J.J. Abrams, after he called her acting “wooden.”
“I was petrified. I thought I was gonna have a panic attack on the first day,” Ridley said. Clearly, she was able to get over her nerves and went on to nail it.
She almost became a psychologist
When asked what she would be if she weren’t an actress, Ridley told The Hollywood Reporter she’d be a psychologist or counselor. “I’ve just signed up for a degree next year, and I’m starting with social sciences. I always felt interested in it,” she said at the time, adding, “To touch someone who’s going through something would be very fulfilling.”
Sounds like a good backup plan — although we’re guessing Ridley’s schedule these days is a little busy for psychology class.
She’s a huge football fan
A Londoner through and through, Ridley is a big fan of football — and not American football, mind you. Her preferred team is Arsenal F.C., she revealed in 2017 to Vogue. Depending on where your own loyalties lie, that’s either very exciting or very disappointing news.
She’s great to her fans
Daisy Ridley makes a point of reaching out to her fans whenever she can. Case in point: When Davidson student Kevin Carlock invited her to his formal in a viral video, Ridley issued a thoughtful public response to his request with the above photo.
She has three tattoos
The actress has three tattoos. One is a set of three outlined stars on her left foot, which she got at age 15. Another represents her family: it’s a star within a cyclone, to represent the “solidity” of her family “within all of the other craziness that goes on.” The third is the alchemical symbol of air: an upward-pointing triangle with a perpendicular line crossing through the base.
She’s already earning accolades
Ridley has garnered nominations for Breakthrough Artist in various film association awards. In February 2016, she was also honored at the U.S.-Ireland Alliance’s 11th annual Oscar Wilde Awards, where she was introduced by Abrams.
She’s been nominated for Best Hero and Best Performance in a Movie for The Last Jedi at the MTV Movie & TV awards in 2018, and won for Breakthrough Performance at the 2016 awards.
She’s in a relationship
Ridley has been dating Tom Bateman for at least two years — and may even be engaged. In June 2019, Ridley sparked rumors by showing up to All Point East festival with what looked an awful lot like an engagement ring. The couple met while filming Murder on the Orient Express.
She’s a triple threat
In addition to acting, Ridley can also sing and dance. She showed off her vocal chops in an adorable Instagram video in which she sings a Christmas duet with Star Wars co-star Oscar Isaac. And in 2016, Ridley also recorded a cover of “At the Ballet” with Anne Hathaway and Barbra Streisand.
She’s also done voice acting
Ridley has lent her voice to a few roles, including the 2016 English dubbed version of Japanese animated movie Only Yesterday, and 2018’s Peter Rabbit. The latter had quite the star-studded cast, featuring voice acting by James Corden, Margot Robbie, and Sia, plus Rose Byrne in a live-action role.
She may be reprising one of Angelina Jolie’s iconic roles
Following a star-making turn in Star Wars, Ridley’s reportedly in line to take on another iconic franchise: Tomb Raider. According to Deadline, Ridley is on the short list of actresses being eyed to play Lara Croft — the action role originated by Jolie — in the upcoming Warner Bros. reboot. Though talks have reportedly already taken place, it’s still early on, and no official offers have been made just yet.
She suffers from endometriosis and PCOS
Ridley made her years of struggle with endometriosis and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) public with an Instagram post in 2016, reflecting on the journey of coming to terms with her conditions.
“Throughout all this I’ve only had people being wonderful and encouraging and occasionally making me realise I’m being ridiculous and there’s more to life,” the actress wrote. “[T]o any of you who are suffering with anything, go to a doctor; pay for a specialist; get your hormones tested, get allergy testing; keep on top of how your body is feeling and don’t worry about sounding like a hypochondriac. From your head to the tips of your toes we only have one body, let us all make sure ours our working in tip top condition, and take help if it’s needed.”
She used to be a bartender
Back when Ridley was an unknown, she worked as a bartender at two different London pubs. And those bartending skills came in handy: In 2016, she recounted to Jimmy Fallon how she hopped over the bar at the wrap party for The Force Awakens and started making drinks herself.
She’s super grateful
Who could forget the short clip she posted of her own reaction to seeing the Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer for the first time? She burst into tears of joy and the moment (captured on camera by her friend) was so sweet, it quickly went viral online.
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