Daisy Ridley returned to the “Happy Sad Confused” podcast amid the release of her latest indie film, “Sometimes I Think About Dying,” and looked back at the divisive response to her final “Star Wars” movie, 2019’s “The Rise of Skywalker.” The movie, along with its predecessor “The Last Jedi,” generated outrage from fans due to creative decisions that many felt went against the spirit of the franchise.
“It’s still upsetting,” Ridley said now when asked about the response. “You don’t want people to feel like you’ve not served the thing they’re a fan of. But [‘The Last Jedi’] was so divisive…it felt like the first one everyone was responsive in the same way. The second, super divisive. The last one, super divisive. It didn’t change how I felt about it.”
Ridley is set to reprise the role of Rey in a new “Star Wars” movie directed by Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy (“Ms. Marvel”) and written by Steven Knight (“Peaky Blinders”). She said that before her meeting with Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy to discuss bringing Rey back, she noticed sentiment around “The Rise of Skywalker” changing somewhat.
“What was strange was before I had breakfast with Kathy last year, I had five people come to me and go, ‘Are they going to do any more with you?’” Ridley said. “And it was really strange. In this six to eight months before that, the way with which I was being greeted by people’s response to [‘Rise of Skywalker’] was quite different than it had been before. Time had passed. That was what was really strange.”
One of the biggest points of contention regarding “The Rise of Skywalker” was the reveal that Ridley’s character, Rey, was actually the granddaughter of Emperor Palpatine. Rey’s parentage was kept a mystery in “The Force Awakens,” which ignited fan theories debating if the character was the offspring of a Skywalker or a Kenobi or so on. “The Last Jedi” rejected those theories by revealing Rey was no one, an orphan whose parents were not tied to the lore of “Star Wars.” “The Rise of Skywalker” then backtracked, revealing Rey as a Palpatine after all. Ridley weighed in on the retcon debate during an interview with Rolling Stone last year.
“Well, J.J. [Abrams] was the one who was like, she is of no one, so it wasn’t just ‘The Last Jedi’ where that was the message,” Ridley said. “What was interesting about the last one, for me, was that you can be a hero and not come from anywhere or you can be a hero and come from literally the worst person in the universe. You’re not your parents, you’re not your grandparents, you’re not your bloodline and you’re not the generations before you. So, I always was like, sure.”
“But it’s beyond my pay grade,” Ridley added. “I say the words, do the thing. I do love the version of, you can be anyone you want to be, but I also love the version where you can rectify wrongs and can’t help what you’re born into.”
Another moment in “The Rise of Skywalker” that generated a polarizing response is when Rey and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) share a passionate kiss before his death. Kylo has fully abandoned the dark side at this point and even used his own Force healing powers to resurrect Rey, who appeared to die after defeating Palpatine. The trilogy’s will-they-won’t-they moments between Rey and Kylo led to the “Reylo” movement, with some fans hoping for a full-blown romance storyline between the two characters. The kiss appeared to give in to these fan demands while alienating a different part of the fandom who felt the kiss didn’t make any sense.
“I felt like we all…it felt earned,” Ridley said on the “Happy Sad Confused” podcast when asked about the divisive kiss. “What was interesting again is intentionality. My feeling in that moment was that it was a goodbye, and that felt earned. You can call a kiss a thousand things, but I felt it was a goodbye. That whole scene felt emotional and I felt I was saying goodbye to the job, too.”
Director J.J. Abrams also downplayed the kiss being romantic during a discussion about the film shortly after it was released in December 2019. “There is as much of a brother-sister thing between Rey and Kylo Ren as there is a romantic thing,” he said at the time. “So it’s not like literally a sexual, romantic thing, but it’s more like they’re bound together in this movie in a crazy, spiritual way that, again, felt romantic to me.”
Ridley recently told Variety that Obaid-Chinoy’s “idea for the story” for the new Rey movie “is cool as shit,” adding: “No spoilers, but she gave me a rundown of the entire story. If it weren’t amazing, I would have been like, ‘OK, call me in five years.’ But it’s worthwhile.’”
“I feel like a grown-up now,” Ridley continued about returning to the “Star Wars” franchise. “When I first started, I was, like, 20. I was the youngest on set. It took me the first two ‘Star Wars’ films to feel worthy of being there. Now I’m in my 30s. The whole thing feels quite different. I’ve been able to work with other filmmakers, and hopefully, I’ve got better as a performer.”
Watch Ridley’s full appearance on the “Happy Sad Confused” podcast in the video below.