In Depth

Daisy Ridley: Who is the young actress behind Star Wars 7's Rey?

Little-known Brit has become a household name since The Force Awakens was released

 British actress Daisy Ridley was almost a complete unknown when it was announced she would star in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Now, just five months after the film's release, she has been showered with awards and become a household name.

What do we know about Ridley?

Born in Westminster in 1992, Ridley comes from acting stock. Her great uncle was the actor and playwright Arnold Ridley, who played the elderly Private Godfrey in BBC comedy Dad's Army.

In 2013 Ridley landed her first television role. In an episode of the long-running medical drama Casualty – titled And The Walls Come Tumbling Down. The actress played Fran Bedingfield, an old school friend of series lead Robyn Miller (Amanda Henderson).

The actress also appeared in the BBC drama Mr Selfridge as well as Wiley's music video for his song Lights On.

In April 2014, Ridley's life changed when a Facebook post announced her role in The Force Awakens.

In casting Ridley, along with another relatively unknown actor John Boyega, director JJ Abrams was thought to be emulating George Lucas' decision to choose largely unknown actors for the first Star Wars film in 1977.

How was she cast?

According to a short clip from the forthcoming DVD on the making of The Force Awakens, Ridley was discovered after an extensive worldwide casting call.

"What we were looking for was someone new and this character needed to be vulnerable and tough, sweet and terrified. And to find someone that no one knew who could do all these things took a lot of looking," director JJ Abrams said.

"We were very lucky to find some great people but the truth is, it wasn't until we found Daisy that we just felt like she was capable of doing all of the things that the character required."

A preview of the casting process for the blockbuster includes a previously unseen clip of Ridley's audition.

"When we brought her in, I asked her to do this one scene, a torture scene - very intense - and she just blew my mind," Abrams says. "She's reaching this depth of struggle and tears were streaming down her face I thought, 'This is unbelievable.' And I asked her to stop, gave her a couple of adjustments and she just did it again and I thought, 'Oh my God.'"

Warning: possible spoilers ahead

Who is Rey?

At the start of The Force Awakens, Rey is a scavenger on the remote desert planet of Jakku, but turns out to be a force to be reckoned with and a crucial part of the Resistance's assault on the evil First Order's new planet-destroying weapon. But who she is and quite how she connects to the film's main characters is still largely unknown. Some have speculated that she may be Luke Skywalker's daughter and therefore the cousin of villain Kylo Ren. Others suggest she has no relationship to the original trilogy's main protagonists.

This week, Ridley herself joined the debate by suggesting that she doesn't find the answer to the question to be all that important.

"I think the amazing thing about [The Force Awakens] is that Finn and Rey don't come from anywhere and they find a place," she said at the MTV Music Awards. "So to me, it's funny that people think it's so important because I don't really think it is."

More will be revealed when Star Wars 8 reaches UK cinemas in 2017.

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