Daisy Ridley on saying goodbye to Star Wars and how the saga changed her life
Star Wars made Daisy Ridley into a superstar, but as her time as Rey comes to an end in The Rise Of Skywalker, she sits down with Laura Harding to take stock
HOW do you finish a story that first started 42 years ago, that has won fans all over the world who now anxiously and eagerly await each precious instalment?
That is the dilemma that faces Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker, the final instalment in the Skywalker saga, which was started by George Lucas with A New Hope in 1977.
But that is not the only story coming to an end with this eagerly anticipated film. It is also the story of the sudden rise to superstardom of British actors Daisy Ridley and John Boyega, who hurtled into the world's consciousness with The Force Awakens in 2015.
They are bona fide A-listers now, their lives changed forever by their place in a galaxy far, far away.
"It was so emotional at the end of filming," Ridley admits as she sits down to chat, the day after the film's London premiere. "It's going to take quite a lot of time to all sink in.
"We basically haven't really stopped since we wrapped in February, so it's been about a year since we started. I feel like I need at least the equivalent of that in weeks to get my head 'round it. Like a week for every month or something."
It's understandable that Ridley would be feeling a bit dazed. She has been around the world with The Rise Of Skywalker but is still bright and chatty, perhaps because she is finally home and got to watch the film last night with her family.
"I feel like, because we're so tired, it's all gone a bit like The Twilight Zone, sort of like, 'Is this really happening, what is going on?'" she says. "I think by mid-January, or late January, it will be 'Oh, wow, OK, strange. It happened and now it's over. John!"
She is sad that Boyega is ill today, so is having to rest up in bed and is absent from their last day promoting the film together.
"It would have been the last day that we are together and he's not even here," she says.
Their rise to fame happened simultaneously, as they were both relative unknowns when they were cast. Boyega had starred in the cult film Attack The Block and the 24 mini-series Live Another Day, while Ridley had appeared in the horror movie Scrawl and episodes of shows like Silent Witness and Mr Selfridge.
But nothing compared to Star Wars, and now they are Hollywood heavyweights in their own rights. Ridley has starred in Murder On The Orient Express and Ophelia, while Boyega has appeared in Kathryn Bigelow's Detroit and Pacific Rim sequel Uprising.
Now they are graduating from the project that made them stars and taking stock of how their lives have changed.
"It's a lot to process," Ridley admits. "It's also six years of my life, it's going to take a while. Especially because I'm 27! So six years out of that is quite a big amount of time."
Her performance in the final film has been widely praised, as her character Rey's complex relationship with Adam Driver's Kylo Ren comes to a head.
"It's weird because in some ways, half of Episode IX is what we did in episode VII (The Force Awakens), very combative, very separate, and even more so, so fractious.
"And then it's episode VIII (The Last Jedi) times 100 for the other side of it, so it's sort of a strange combination of both, and both increased. I think it's amazing and it was the best in terms of the fight, because we were so respectful and we were more controlled in what we were doing.
"With Adam, it's not hard to get to that emotional place, he's a great actor and it's not difficult working together. I love working with him, I think he's brilliant."
Saying goodbye to everyone has been a wrench, not just to her co-stars but to her whole support system behind the camera.
"It's everyone on set and all of the cast but also my driver Lee, who was the first person and the last person to see me every day for seven months, and then Flora my hair and make-up artist, who was the next person, and Callie, my costumier, who was the next, so many people within that circle who are also your emotional support on set as well, and they were all there last night, so it was a bit 'waaah'."
Watching the finished product is also emotional, primarily because of the scenes she shares with General Leia Organa, played by Carrie Fisher, who died in 2016.
Director JJ Abrams uses footage he shot with Fisher on The Force Awakens to digitally stitch her into the latest film, to make sure she is given the right send-off.
"There is one scene that I still find upsetting," Ridley says. "I've now seen the film three times and it's the one scene where I'm saying goodbye to her before we go off on our adventure.
"That was really hard to film, because I knew what you (the audience) were seeing and also all of the implications of what that means in the film.
"It's still hard watching that. With the others, you take a step back so it feels a bit more removed, but it's still strange."
One thing seems certain though, the force is strong with Ridley.
:: Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker is in cinemas now.