2015 was the year that Star Wars exploded back into the public consciousness. The Force Awakens was exactly the adrenaline shot in the arm that the ageing franchise had been looking for, capturing the hearts and minds of an entirely new generation, as well as erasing the memories of George Lucas’s disappointing prequel trilogy for older fans. Actress Daisy Ridley was a key part in that.
Amidst the noisy hustle and bustle of the cutting edge CGI, endless fan-appeasing Easter Eggs, and the tense action sequences, one performance broke through to stand head and shoulders above the rest. An unknown 23 year old actress with only a handful of television appearances under her belt, Ridley went from a nobody, to a Hollywood A-lister in the space of a heartbeat.
Even after only a few minutes of screen-time playing poor little orphaned Rey, it became apparent that this girl could ACT. Beloved by both critics and fans alike, she managed to re-capture the finest traditions of the Star Wars canon’s strong female leads, coming to represent a new and bright future for the film series.
Fast forward two years. With prequel movie Rogue One having superbly maintained the momentum that The Force Awakens kicked off with, we find ourselves at the height of the marketing fever surrounding The Last Jedi. It’s been forty years since Star Wars was this much in the public eye, and the entire press campaign is buzzing with hope and positivity.
Seemingly out of nowhere, the internet suddenly throws the mother of all demented shit-fits, with multiple entertainment websites reporting that Ridley was looking to leave the Star Wars franchise. The source of this bizarre revelation? A recent interview with Rolling Stone where she was quoted as saying the following:
“No,” she says flatly. “For me, I didn’t really know what I was signing on to. I hadn’t read the script, but from what I could tell, it was really nice people involved, so I was just like, ‘Awesome.’ Now I think I am even luckier than I knew then, to be part of something that feels so like coming home now.” But, um, doesn’t that sort of sound like a yes? “No,” she says again, smiling a little. “No, no, no. I am really, really excited to do the third thing and round it out, because ultimately, what I was signing on to was three films. So in my head, it’s three films. I think it will feel like the right time to round it out.”
Immediately, the confused head-scratching began. Surely there’s no way on God’s Green Earth that a young actress in the biggest film series of the century would want to simply down tools and walk away from the most high-profile role of her career? But then, that quote did have the definitive sense of an ending to it. Say it isn’t so?
Well, everything would appear to have been taken a little out of context, with none other than Ridley herself seeking to try and clarify her comments during a subsequent interview with the BBC. When pressed on the issue, she replied:
“When I did sign up, I did sign up for three films and that’s where I sort of saw the story ending,” she said. “I think everyone has perhaps taken that as me going, ‘I don’t want anything to do with it’ which is vastly untrue because this is awesome.”
In another recent interview, she said:
“Misquoted. I was misquoted,” said Ridley. “I was asked — by the way, at the end of a very long day, at the end of a very long shoot — I was asked how I felt going forward. And I said, in my mind, the story finishes at Episode IX. To me, Star Wars is in threes. [Episodes] 4, 5, 6; 1, 2, 3; 7, 8, 9. So, for me, that’s what I was signing on to; VII, VIII, IX. So that’s really what I was answering. And I think, for now- I’m not saying forever. Obviously, Rey will always be Rey… and obviously I don’t know what happens in Episode IX, or even if I’m in it. But for now I think it would be- To me, IX was always the end of this chapter. So, it’s not me going ‘I don’t want to.’ It’s just that’s what I always pictured.”
So breathe a sigh of relief, Star Wars fans. Thankfully this all seems to be either (at best) a misunderstanding between interviewer and interviewee, or (at worst) gutter-journalist clickbait.
It certainly wouldn’t make a great deal of sense for Kathleen Kennedy and the rest of her team to negotiate a contract with a performer that might see them abandon the project at exactly the point they would be needed to hand over from one trilogy to the next…
Star Wars: The Last Jedi lands in cinemas December 14.
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