Star wars: How Daisy Ridley went from a bit part in Casualty to the hottest actress in the universe
Overnight she’s become a global star — a gorgeous young British actress who enjoyed a private education at a Home Counties boarding school and up until now thought getting a small part in Casualty on the BBC was hitting the big time.
Life at home with her parents, two sisters and dog Muffin is about to take on a whole new dimension, however. For Daisy Ridley, 23, plays the heroine Rey in the long-awaited film Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and has garnered rave, a-star-is-born, early reviews.
Actress Geena Davis, who was among the A-listers at the world premiere in Los Angeles this week, said: ‘I loved everything about it, especially Rey.’
ALISON BOSHOFF: British actress Daisy Ridley, 23, from London, (pictured) plays the heroine Rey in the long-awaited film Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and has garnered rave, a-star-is-born, early reviews
Daisy was cast from nowhere to land the lead role of desert-dwelling Rey (she is pictured in the film)
Justin Chang, the film critic of industry bible Variety, observed: ‘Ridley is terrific as a young woman not yet sure what to make of the glorious and terrifying destiny that might await her.’
Daisy Isobel Ridley was born in Westminster, London, on April 10, 1992. Her father is photographer Chris Ridley, 73, and her mother is Louise Fawkner-Corbett, 58, who works for a bank as a publicist.
Home is a mews house in Central London and the family has a holiday home with a pool in Croatia. She has two older sisters, Poppy, 27, a musician, and Kika Rose, 25, a model. She has two half-sisters from her father’s first marriage.
Her great uncle was Arnold Ridley who played Private Charles Godfrey in the classic sitcom Dad’s Army.
Until now Daisy thought getting a small part in Casualty was hitting the big time (she is pictured on the show)
The dazzling brunette has Natalie Portman’s strong brows and more than a dash of Keira Knightley in her smile.
Her Star Wars co-star Carrie Fisher said of the resemblance: ‘Keira Knightley . . . you just ruined her career.’
She remains down to earth about her looks, though, describing her hair as the ‘flattest ******* thing in the world.’
Daisy was cast from nowhere to land the lead role of desert-dwelling scavenger Rey.
Previous roles included a corpse on Casualty and a small part in The Inbetweeners 2 — which did not make the grade and was left on the cutting room floor. Her only other role to date was in a short sci-fi film called Blue Season in 2013.
She was in a theatre watching a play when she took the call telling her that after seven months and five auditions, she had won the part.
Daisy (pictured) as Foxy Starlet in the second series of ITV's Mr Selfridge, which aired last year
Leaving the auditorium to answer the phone, she says: ‘I could hear the traffic, and the play going on inside. You think time is going to stand still or something, but it doesn’t.
‘Life just carries on. Obviously, something monumental had happened in my life, but no one else knew. It was weird. I saw the rest of the play, and then went home on the Tube.’
Despite her surprise at landing the lead role, she says she had a ‘funny feeling in my body’ while auditioning. ‘There was something pushing me on, telling me this was going to happen.’
But she admits: ‘I liked Star Wars, but I wasn’t an uberfan like so many people are.’
No wonder her first day of filming did not go well, with director J.J. Abrams telling her that her performance was wooden. ‘I was petrified,’ she said. ‘I thought I was going to have a panic attack. I couldn’t breathe and thought I was going to cry. It was awful.’
To prepare for the movie Daisy worked out for five hours a day, five days a week, and dropped carbs from her diet, instead favouring ‘fish, legumes and spirulina shakes’.
Stunt training at London’s Pinewood studios lasted for three months and prepared her for punishing shoots in the deserts of Abu Dhabi.
Daisy boarded at Tring Park School for the Performing Arts in Herts — where fees are £30,000 a year — from the age of nine.
The school specialises in music, musical theatre and drama and counts Downton stars Lily James, Jessica Brown Findlay and X Factor’s Ella Henderson among its most recent alumnae.
She says: ‘I went because initially I was very naughty, and my mum thought if I was busy, I’d be better. I didn’t really do acting until later on in the school, with an amazing teacher. I left, went travelling, came back. And then it all kind of went from there.’
Teacher Miriam Juviler says that Daisy specialised in musical theatre and adds: ‘Everybody here is delighted for her. She is a hard-working, bright young girl and very talented.
Although her fame is already taking off - ‘People are getting tattoos. Of my face. It’s insane,’ she says - for now, her feet remain firmly on the ground. ‘Worse things happen than me being recognised on the street,’ she says
‘There are always a few students who have a bit of an extra spark in them. She was very much star material when she was here.’
As a teenager, Daisy joked about being ‘damn good in bed’ and a ‘hardcore sex machine’ on her Bebo social media profile.
Under the name ‘Demonchild Daisy’, she posted a picture of herself draped around a man with the words ‘Made in England’ written on her body in lipstick.
She wrote on her home page that she was ‘happiest when with friends drinking and having a giggle’.
On holiday in Croatia in 2007, aged 15, she posted pictures of herself ‘raving’, drinking with pals and smoking.
She also swears like a trooper. ‘Apologies,’ she told one interviewer after several outbursts. ‘I’m very sweary today.’
Daisy at the Star Wars: The Force Awakens European premiere in Leicester Square, London, last night
Daisy has been dating public school-educated actor Charlie Hamblett, who played Mickey Yates in the television mini series Babylon in 2014, for several years.
There has been recent speculation that they are engaged.
The couple went on holiday to Zanzibar after Star Wars filming wrapped earlier this year.
Although her fame is already taking off — ‘People are getting tattoos. Of my face. It’s insane,’ she says — for now, her feet remain firmly on the ground.
‘Worse things happen than me being recognised on the street,’ she says.
Carrie Fisher — Star Wars’ Princess Leia — had plenty of advice for her: ‘You’re going to have people have fantasies about you!
'That will make you uncomfortable. 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.”'
Daisy as Rey with co-star John Boyega as Finn in a scene from Star Wars: The Force Awakens
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