Daisy Ridley had never secured a major role before portraying Rey in Star Wars, and when she was cast in the role, she was still working for minimum wage.
Ridley was still working in a bar in London for about $10 an hour when she secured that life-changing position five years ago. “Not to float my own boat, but I’m a really good bartender,” Ridley told Jimmy Fallon on NBC’s “The Tonight Show” in November 2017. “I worked in two different pubs for, like, a year and a half in a rowdy London district.”
During the broadcast, the Brit even put her words into action, putting her bartending talents to the test for Jimmy Fallon and his audience. She also served as a bartender for her castmates during The Last Jedi’s wrap party in Ireland. Ridley may fondly recall her pre-Star Wars days, but we doubt she misses them so much that she’d give up the previous five years to do it all over again.
She stopped around the time she earned her breakout part in 2015’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” Ridley had previously only secured modest roles in short films and UK television dramas like “Casualty” and “Mr. Selfridge” before she was named as the lead of that picture in April 2014.
“It was a beer and alehouse. I knew a lot about beer,” she told The New York Times. The actress claimed she was working for minimum wage at the time and was still looking for a part, any role.
Despite the fact that Ridley’s compensation for The Force Awakens was apparently in the low six-figure level owing to her lack of experience, it would have been far more than she was used to.
Ridley, who went to a performing arts high school north of London, also admitted to The New York Times that she toiled for a few years after high school attempting to break into the acting industry.
“I auditioned for this [acting] agency,” she explains how she got her start in the industry. “I got an advertisement first, and then something else, which I got fired from. It was soul destroying. And then the next thing I got I thought was going to be my big break, and they cut the role [from the movie “The Inbetweeners 2″].”
When JJ Abrams selected Daisy Ridley to be the new face of Star Wars, she was a nobody. It all came down to her audition, which was widely regarded as one of the greatest ever. JJ was gushing as well.
Abrams told The Insider, “She just blew my mind. She’s reaching this depth of struggle and tears are streaming down her face.” He’s referring to her audition tape, in which Ridley is up against Kylo Ren, who is attempting to use the Force to enter into Rey’s head. Abrams explained that he had to interrupt her audition halfway through to give her some notes, then let her go to finish the performance. “I thought, ‘This is unbelievable,'” Abrams recalled. “She just did it again, and I thought, ‘Oh my god.'”
When JJ Abrams, the film’s director, finally contacted Ridley to tell her she had the part, Ridley couldn’t believe him.
“JJ rang me. And it’s weird, because I thought I was still half-auditing,” she explained to The New York Times. “I thought I had to convince him. I was like, ‘I could totally do this.’ Thinking, ‘I can’t do this.’ And then he told me and I’m pretty sure I was like: ‘Are you sure? Are you sure?’
He was certain, and the rest, as they say in the entertainment industry, was history.
The film went on to break box office records, making over $2.07 billion worldwide and launching Ridley to international fame. The sequel, “The Last Jedi,” earned $1.3 billion globally in 2017, and the trilogy’s concluding film, “The Rise of Skywalker,” is predicted to take well over $1 billion when it opens in theaters on December 20.