Heroes

Through the streets of London at night: *Star Wars* leading lady Daisy Ridley

In the Star Wars movie, shooting-star Daisy Ridley uses a hyperspace drive to travel through space. In real life, she takes to the streets of London at night in an all-electric vehicle. We meet a young woman on her way to conquering the world.

Words
Marc Deckert, Hendrik Lakeberg

Hollywood has often been called the dream factory. But how often does it fulfill that promise and actually bring dreams to the silver screen? One of those rare occasions occurred when the latest movie in the Star Wars franchise was released to theaters around the world last winter. And few would have predicted it. But the millions of fans who flocked to the box office, eager to renew their acquaintance with Han Solo, Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker were blown away by a hitherto unknown young English actor in the lead role, who stole the show from the saga’s long list of icons.

Just 22 years old at the time, Daisy Ridley played the resourceful, badass loner Rey – a scavenger forced to fend for herself on a remote planet while waiting for someone to come and rescue her so her life can begin. Known mainly to British audiences for her roles in various TV series, Ridley was both a fresh face and an inspired choice. Not only was she convincing in the role of an unknown young woman battling against the odds to achieve something great, she actually was that girl. There was something about this combination that worked incredibly well. And it is stories like these that are the stuff of movie magic.

Ridley is not just a star; she is also a typical product of the millennial generation. She belongs to a peer group that no longer needs science fiction to project visions of the future – because high-tech solutions are already commonplace. (Photo: Alexei Hay/trunkarchive; Getty Images/iStockphoto)

“I like the BMW i3, because I want to be kind to the environment and I love the design. For me, it’s a win-win choice.”

Daisy Ridley

Ridley readily admits that a few things have changed in her life since the movie’s release. Speaking to BMW Magazine in autumn 2016, she could barely conceal the breathless pace of her new life. A few months ago, she told entertainment magazine Variety that after getting the call from Star Wars director J. J. Abrams, she was no longer living in her own body for awhile. Now she says life has returned to normal, but “It’s normal life plus Star Wars.” Since then, she has presented awards at the Oscars, performed a duet with Barbra Streisand, and filmed the next Star Wars episode. Even for J. J. Abrams, who discovered her, Ridley’s meteoric rise is astonishing. “Daisy’s life is a little like Rey’s. She’s caught up in this crazy adventure – and it’s only just beginning.”

The real Daisy Ridley is more loquacious than Rey in the movie, and her English accent a little more clipped. She is a cheerful, intelligent Londoner with an appointment book full of meetings. And although shooting is already completed for the second movie, she can still hardly get her head around these two unreal years in hyperspace. She talks about the reaction from the fans, which can sometimes be “a little overwhelming,” and she is adamant that – despite all the warnings of its dangers – she really does enjoy her new life to the fullest. “People often recognize me, sure,” she says. “But not so often that it actually bothers me. Nowadays I’ve even gone back to traveling by Tube [the London subway]. I avoided it when the film came out and the hype was at its peak, but now things have got back to normal. Perhaps that’s just how it goes in London, where I live and where people are busy worrying about their own stuff.”

Daisy Ridley is not just a movie star; she is also a typical product of the millennial generation. She belongs to a peer group that no longer needs science fiction to project visions of the future – because high-tech solutions are already commonplace.

The actor’s full name is Daisy Jazz Isobel Ridley. Prior to *Star Wars: The Force Awakens,* she mainly had roles in TV series such as *Casualty* and *Mr. Selfridge.* She will play the role of Rey in two more *Star Wars* episodes. (Photo: Christian Macdonald/trunkarchive; Getty Images/iStockphoto)

The actor’s full name is Daisy Jazz Isobel Ridley. Prior to *Star Wars: The Force Awakens,* she mainly had roles in TV series such as *Casualty* and *Mr. Selfridge.* She will play the role of Rey in two more *Star Wars* episodes. (Photo: Christian Macdonald/trunkarchive; Getty Images/iStockphoto)

The internet and social networks are as normal to this generation as electricity. Ridley’s followers on the internet and social media receive daily updates with news and amusing tidbits from a fan base that she herself is only now getting to know. She loves Boomerang, a video app from Instagram. “You can create hilarious three-second loops with it. And I absolutely adore Headspace, a meditation app. It’s become really important to me.” Ridley’s vehicle of choice is a BMW i3. “I never had much of a thing for cars,” she freely admits. “But this model really appealed to me. I always try to be kind to the environment by recycling waste, for example. The BMW i3 is the logical next step for me in that respect. And I love the design. It’s just gorgeous driving an electric car. For me, the BMW i3 is a win-win choice.”

She says she loves to drive around the city at night or early on a Sunday morning, when there is no traffic and the streets are empty. “I listen to the radio. For me, these moments are like meditation.”

Electric mobility, smartphones and social networks: in some ways, for the millennial generation, everyday reality has long since surpassed the science fiction fantasies of the first Star Wars generation. By comparison, the universe as depicted on the big screen must have an almost nostalgic feel to it, with personal assistants still – of the two-legged, gold-plated variety – and there is no spaceship-sharing app, just galactic credits that are bartered for or won in tournaments. And the Millennium Falcon – the spaceship now commanded by Ridley herself – is long overdue for retirement to the scrapyard. With its massive modular structure and thousands of welded seams, it now appears a tad anachronistic compared with the mobility solutions already available to the real millennial generation.

Ridley was born 15 years after the first Star Wars movie hit the big screen. She is very much a digital native. “But my grandparents had a bookshop, and even to this day, the Ridleys are avid readers.” So she is far from unfamiliar with the analog world. As she puts it, “Technology is what’s driving us forward; it has made our lives faster. But the developments are not always positive. We learn so much through our smartphones and computers that we can quickly lose sight of real life.”

It seems highly unlikely, though, that Ridley’s life is about to slow down any time soon. Her work schedule is getting fuller by the day and for the next few years to come. In addition to the Star Wars saga, she is already lined up to appear in other major movies and to work with director J. J. Abrams on another project – a remake of the successful Israeli film Kolma, a supernatural love story. She has also secured a role in the film adaptation of the popular series of novels for young adults, Chaos Walking.

When young stars reveal things about themselves on the internet, they often try to make an impact – many by appearing glamorous, while others attempt to be more thought-provoking. What’s most surprising about Ridley is the way she embraces everything with her infectious good humor and optimism.

She doesn’t pretend that she doesn’t want to stand out. She likes to stand out. She doesn’t just say that she enjoys everything. She really does try to enjoy everything in the moment. Just before filming on Star Wars began, she received an e-mail of encouragement from actor Simon Pegg, who plays Scotty in the rival franchise Star Trek. Pegg wrote, “Here’s where the fun begins.” Ridley says, “It was really nice of him. Because up to that point, countless people had just said that my life was about to change dramatically and questioned whether I was ready for it. Sooner or later you reach the point where you just say, ‘Okay, all right.’ But I don’t want everything just to pass me by without leaving a trace.”

One of her latest Instagram videos shot on set provides an interesting perspective on the next Star Wars movie. It shows Ridley in training for a sword fight – brandishing a real lightsaber, of course – and it is no exaggeration to say that she looks pretty accomplished. When interviewed on the subject, all she says is, “I’m always learning new moves. I think I’ve got the saber pretty much under control now.”

Model facts

BMW i3

Engine

AC Synchronous Electric Motor with integrated power electronics, charger and generator mode for recuperation

Output (hp@rpm)

170

Max Torque (lb-ft@rpm)

184

Acceleration 0-60 (sec)*

7.0

Top Speed (mph)**

93

Electric Range

70-110

*BMW AG test results. BMW urges you to obey local speed laws and always wear safety belts.
**Top speed electronically limited.

07/19/17