Daisy Ridley on ‘Star Wars’ Return & ‘Sometimes I Think About Dying’


Daisy Ridley had an unusually fast ascent to fame when she was cast as the lead of the most recent trilogy of Star Wars films (2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens), playing Jedi-in-training Rey. Going from being virtually unknown to starring in one of the biggest film franchises of all time, the now 31-year-old had no idea what would come next.

“Sometimes I think, ‘Should I have a plan?” she muses on Zoom from her home in her native London. “I was talking to someone who I shall not name, someone pretty high up in a certain company, and he goes, ‘It’s so interesting the way you choose roles.’ And I was like, ‘Is it?’ And he goes, ‘Yeah, you’re really, um, just doing what you want.’ I don’t know how to take that. I think it’s a compliment.”

Ridley’s lack of a set career strategy has led her to one of her most interesting films yet: Sometimes I Think About Dying, an indie that debuted at the Sundance Film Festival last year and is now set for release on January 26. In the film directed by Rachel Lambert, Ridley plays Fran, a meek, isolated office worker who frequently escapes her dull reality by indulging surreal fantasies about her own death. Fran is coaxed out of her shell by the arrival of a funny new coworker, Robert (Dave Merheje), and they begin a tentative courtship that sparks a renewed interest in living.

For a performer known for playing a character kicking Sith ass with a lightsaber, Fran presents an opportunity for Ridley to show off a much subtler set of acting skills. Though at the center of the film’s plot, Fran desperately wants to fade into the background, and it shows in her body language: no matter the scene, her shoulders remain hunched and her voice, small.

Daisy Ridley in Sometimes I Think About Dying

Oscilloscope Laboratories

While Fran is “fairly separate to who I am,” Ridley says, she also relates to the character on certain levels, like her panic over not saying the right thing. “I also understand occasionally feeling like, ‘Why would anyone want to hang out with me?’ Which sounds pretty dark…it’s just sometimes I’m like, today I don’t feel as in the world as other days,” she says.

The project came together pretty simply: Ridley had wanted to work with Lambert, who sent her the script. Before shooting in Astoria, Oregon, they spent months talking about Fran. While the script originally had voiceover that was ultimately excised from the final product, Ridley used the scrapped lines as her character’s internal monologue. “I always knew exactly where Fran was. Slipping into her was quite simple, in a way,” she says.

It was also easy to center herself in the office set, where sometimes cameras would be rolling on the cast playing on computers without the actors knowing. Because production happened shortly after COVID restrictions were lifted, Ridley had what she describes as a “real feeling of connection” with the cast and the crew. “It was so nice to, like, go for a drink,” she says.

Oscilloscope Laboratories

She also says that she had never made “such a true independent film,” which makes sense, given that she got her start in a galaxy far, far away. For Ridley, who also has a producing credit on the film, the experience was both inspirational and educational. “It was amazing, because all the producers were very open with me, and I was [made] very aware of what it took to make a film like this,” she says. “I was like, ‘This is fucking amazing.'”

Indeed, a day before we spoke, SXSW announced that British indie Magpie, which Ridley appears in and produced, would be premiering at the festival. Written by Ridley’s husband, the actor Tom Bateman, Magpie is based on an idea that Ridley had after working with a young actress for the 2023 thriller The Marsh King’s Daughter.

After flying home from that job, she told Bateman about the story she had brewing in her mind, and despite having never collaborated together professionally, they quickly got to work. The drama, directed by Sam Yates, follows a couple whose daughter is cast in a movie. While the mother (Ridley) stays home, the father (Shazad Latif) is sucked into the orbit of a movie star (Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz). “Honestly, we had a fucking great time and I love the film,” Ridley says. “It’s so different from the other stuff I’ve done, and I suppose in a big career way too, I want to try different things and get better each time.”

Ridley’s not sure if her efforts producing Sometimes and Magpie will eventually lead to more behind the scenes work, like directing, one day. “I still feel like a baby in a way,” she says. “I’ve made, I think, four or five films in the last few years. But I still feel like I have so much to learn and so much to see and to do.” She’ll definitely keep producing, and perhaps maybe more. “Making anything is just fucking amazing full stop,” she says. “You’re like, wow, look at what you did.”

In the meantime, there’s another Star Wars film looming, directed by the franchise’s first female filmmaker, Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy. But that also wasn’t part of any grand scheme. “I didn’t think I’d be coming back to it, but I love the story and I want to work with Sharmeen,” she says of returning to the screen as Rey. “It’s just unexpected but wonderful.”

Right now, Ridley is really just relishing in accomplishing what she initially set out to do. After learning Magpie had gotten into SXSW, she sent her agent a voice note. The message “went something like”—here, Ridley mimics a crying voice—“All I wanted to do was be a working actor, and you helped me do that and I’m just so grateful.”

“It was ridiculous,” she continues, her voice back to normal. “But I really feel like I wanted to be an actor, a working actor, and that’s what I’m doing and it feels really good.”



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