The Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker actress, 28, covers the latest issue of Tatler magazine and got real about the pressures she faces as a woman in Hollywood. While working on 2021’s Chaos Walking — which also stars Tom Holland, Nick Jonas and Mads Mikkelsen — Ridley received a handful of negative comments about how she carries herself on set.
“I’ve been told that I’m intimidating,” she told Tatler. “That was on Chaos Walking. I was having my hair done, having my wig put on. I remember thinking, ‘God, should I be smaller? Should I be quieter?’ … I’ve been called aggressive, too; my energy is ‘quite aggressive.’ That was during a meeting with a director.”
The criticism made an impression, leading the British actress to question what she could have done wrong during the interaction. “I was thinking, ‘But why? Is it because I maintained eye contact? Is it because I’m passionate about what we’re talking about?’ I don’t know. You have that horrible sinking feeling of, ‘God, do I not come across the way I think I do?'”
Ridley was announced as the leading lady in J.J. Abrams‘ The Force Awakens in 2014, one year before the Star Wars installment hit theaters. She later reprised her role as Rey in 2017’s The Last Jedi and 2019’s The Rise of Skywalker. Since making her major film breakthrough, Ridley has tried to stay protective of her personal life, including her relationship with her boyfriend of nearly three years, Tom Bateman.
“What I do know is that when I signed on to Star Wars, there was nothing in my contract that said, ‘Your life will be talked about,'” she told the publication. “It got to the point where I realized so much of my life was out there. People knew my mum’s name, my dad’s name, what my sisters do for a living. And I thought it would be nice to have something that’s for me, that isn’t for everybody else. I just thought I would keep that separate.”
Though she needed some time to adjust to her life in the spotlight, the Murder on the Orient Express actress wouldn’t have changed the experience for the world. When Rey joined the Star Wars franchise, she quickly became an empowering figure for young women across the globe — a responsibility that Ridley doesn’t take lightly.
“I know there were a thousand other actresses who could have done it,” she said of playing her Star Wars character. “I guess ultimately it came to a point where I decided I have to be OK with this. I got this magical piece of luck. The stars aligned. I have to be OK with the amazing chance.”