J.J. Abrams' Surprising Criticism Of Daisy Ridley's Early Star Wars Performance

When Star Wars: The Force Awakens hits screens in a couple of weeks fans all over the world are going to pick it apart. It’s something that everybody involved is very conscious of. For Daisy Ridley, however, it won’t be the first time that her acting was criticized. Director J.J. Abrams already gave the actress a hard time about her performance, and he didn’t even wait until the second day of shooting.

Ridley, who plays the scavenger Rey in the upcoming film, opened up about the exchange with the director in a recent interview. The moment doesn’t seem to hurt her too badly anymore but the actress told Glamour Magazine that the criticism hit pretty hard at the time.

JJ… probably doesn’t remember telling me that my performance was wooden. This was the first day! And I honestly wanted to die. I thought I was gonna cry. I couldn’t breathe. And there was so many crew there, because obviously all the creatures [had stand-ins], and there were loads of extra crew making sure everyone was safe because it was so hot. It was awful.

One can only imagine how traumatic an experience that could be. You’re a relatively unknown actress who just landed one of the biggest roles in Hollywood in the biggest film franchise there has ever been. You’re on set on your first day, just trying to take it all in, and then it turns out you’re not doing very well. It sounds like the honeymoon was over fairly quickly. Since Ridley doesn’t seem to think that Abrams would remember the incident, we’re going to assume that means that her acting was not a problem after that first day. While we’ve only seen a handful of clips of the actress, there’s nothing in the mix that concerns us as far as performances go.

The comment from J.J. Abrams does harken back to a similar comment made by Peter Mayhew regarding Ridley. He used a couple synonyms of wooden, "stiff" and "solid," to refer to the young actress, although he seemed to be speaking more of her personality on set than her performance. Still, if she was in a bit of shock due to her surroundings, it’s far from surprising that she would have been a little stiff to begin with, and if that feeling made it’s way into her first day shoot it wouldn’t shock anybody.

Daisy Ridley seems to have very much warmed up to her new role as a blockbuster movie star. We’re looking forward to seeing Ridley’s performance along with everybody else in The Force Awakens. We doubt we’ll even be able to tell which part of the movie was shot on the first day.

Dirk Libbey
Content Producer/Theme Park Beat

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian, Dirk began writing for CinemaBlend as a freelancer in 2015 before joining the site full-time in 2018. He has previously held positions as a Staff Writer and Games Editor, but has more recently transformed his true passion into his job as the head of the site's Theme Park section. He has previously done freelance work for various gaming and technology sites. Prior to starting his second career as a writer he worked for 12 years in sales for various companies within the consumer electronics industry. He has a degree in political science from the University of California, Davis.  Is an armchair Imagineer, Epcot Stan, Future Club 33 Member.