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Daisy Ridley on Young Woman and the Sea, John Boyega in New Star Wars

Daisy Ridley on Young Woman and the Sea, John Boyega in New Star Wars

Daisy Ridley trades in her Star Wars lightsaber for a pair of goggles in new film Young Woman and the Sea, telling the real-life story of the first woman to successfully swim the English Channel.

Ridley plays Trudy Ederle, who made the 21-mile swim in 1926 and broke down barriers for women in the sport along the way, but whose story is not commonly known. At the Los Angeles premiere on Thursday, Ridley told The Hollywood Reporter that she wasn’t much of a swimmer before the project, acknowledging, “I would walk into a pool and I would stand there, and sometimes I would do a hold my breath competition, but I had never done a full length of the pool. So the first time I got in the pool and tried to, I stood up halfway and was like, ‘I actually can’t do this.’ And then I had to try very hard in order to adequately portray Trudy.”

After starring as Rey in the Star Wars trilogy The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker, Ridley is no stranger to stunt work and physical scenes, but said this experience was “just so different.”

“I feel like, generally, the stuff I learned for Star Wars is transferable; I did an action movie [Cleaner] before Christmas with Martin Campbell, had to really beat some people up, and you’re learning new skills but they’re transferable, what you already have,” she explained. “But swimming is just a different thing, so it felt like really starting at the beginning. And I remember a month into filming thinking, ‘Oh, I think I’ve actually figured out how to swim,’ but it takes a while.”

Ridley admitted, though, she didn’t suddenly unlock a lasting love for swimming, joking, “I’m so thrilled to be part of this story, I’m so thrilled to play Trudy, what she did is amazing, and I don’t need to swim anymore. I’ll watch people swim and cheer them on, can’t wait for the Olympics.”

One thing the actress will be doing is returning to Star Wars, with a film set 15 years after the events of The Rise of Skywalker, directed by Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy. Asked if her co-star John Boyega will also be joining her in the new film she played coy; does she want him to be a part of it? “Absolutely, of course,” Ridley said of the two being back together. “It feels like we should, yeah.”

Director Joachim Rønning sang Ridley’s praises on the carpet, calling her “a force of nature” and applauding her commitment to the character.

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“I wanted to shoot it as real as possible. I wanted Daisy to be in the elements and come as close as we could to Trudy’s journey,” he said. “Of course, we were not risking our lives doing this, for the most part, and I was on the boat in a jacket, but she was swimming until her lips were blue and always asking for more, never complaining.” Rønning added that though they had stunt doubles on set, “Even in the wide shots I ended up using Daisy because she had this special, extremely forceful way of swimming that I felt none of the others could do. I ended up using her for everything.”

Young Woman and the Sea — which co-stars Tilda Cobham-Hervey, Kim Bodnia, Glenn Fleshler and Jeanette Hain, and counts Jerry Bruckheimer as a producer — hits theaters May 31.

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