Is Daisy Ridley the next Harrison Ford? I think the answer is yes. Just looking at Miss Ridley's sudden, and very well deserved rise to fame, I'm seeing parallels with Mr Ford's career path. Read on for more...
Lets jump back to the 70's when Harrison Ford was a fresh faced actor looking for a break. He had worked with a purer Star Wars George Lucas in '72 on (my personal favourite film) American Graffiti and after that well, not a lot really. In fact, after American Graffiti, Harrison put away any movie star aspirations and took up a day job as a carpenter to provide for his young family. Legend has it that Graffiti casting director, Fred Roos, suggested Harrison for the role of Han Solo when Uncle George was putting together Star Wars, but George wanted to go another way. He wanted to populate Star Wars with actors you'd never seen before, much like Graffiti before it. Roos was so convinced that Harrison was right for the part that he contrived a reason to have him onsite, hanging a door, when George was holding group casting read throughs. Chances are you've seen some of this footage, Kurt Russell, William Katt and Perry King, among others reading in group "chemistry" sessions alongside Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill. Roos was short one Han Solo (funny how that happened) and suggested Harrison sit in to feed lines to the prospective Lukes and Leias. The rest, as they say is history.
After Star Wars, Harrison rubbed his hands together and said, "It's time to go to work." I'm not even kidding, that's a quote from the man himself. He knew Star Wars would open doors for him and soon the cocky space pirate would have Star Wars, Blade Runner, Indiana Jones and Jack Ryan franchises on the boil as well as respectable dramatic roles in movies like The Mosquito Coast and Regarding Henry and an Oscar nom in Peter Weir's Witness. He wasn't kidding about going to work.
Harrison Ford is now the single most bankable movie star in history with over $4.8b in (domestic) box office, putting him just ahead of fellow Star Wars alum, Samuel L Jackson. Star Wars plucked Harrison Ford from relative obscurity and allowed him to craft an impressive career. Are we about to see history repeat itself?
Daisy Ridley had a handful of TV credits when she was cast in The Force Awakens. As we watched the film develop we weren't even sure that she was the lead, even in December it was unclear is Daisy or her utterly charming co-star John Boyega was the central figure, thanks largely to J.J. Abrams' mystery box approach. In the run up to the film I remember commenting on a couple of podcasts, "She looks like she might be our Luke." and, "Could she be our lead character?" And then one night in December, I fell in love with her a dozen times over. Miss Ridley managed to bring a mix of strength and fragility to Rey, courage and a caution that was beguiling. Rey was spellbinding to watch, especially in the third act. Daisy Ridley is simply the best thing in The Force Awakens, which is no small feat when she is sharing the screen with the aforementioned Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Adam Driver and the original trilogy cast. One can only imagine, that after the first time Daisy watched the final cut, her rubbing her hands together saying, "It's time to go to work."
And to work she has gone. Unfortunately the new Star Wars movie shooting schedule means the The Force Awakens press junket is swiftly followed by pre-production, training and shooting on Episode VIII, so other projects will have to take a back seat for now, but they are lining up.
Earlier this week rumours started to circulate that Daisy Ridley might be up for the role of Lara Craft in a, long overdue Tomb Raider reboot. What perfect casting. Part English Rose and part kick ass lady warrior, Daisy seems destined to take the character of Lara Croft and make it her own as she starts her own collection of block buster franchises.
So Daisy's career may well take her from Star Wars to a blockbuster about a grave robbing archeologist/adventurer? Sound familiar? Is Daisy Ridley the new Harrison Ford? You bet she is, and it's time for her to go to work...
Thank you for reading,