|Star Wars character|
Daisy Ridley as Rey in The Force Awakens
|First appearance||The Force Awakens (2015)|
|Portrayed by||Daisy Ridley|
(Young; Episode VII)
|Voiced by||Daisy Ridley (Disney Infinity 3.0, Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Star Wars Forces of Destiny, Star Wars Battlefront II), Star Wars Rebels; archive recording)|
Helen Sadler (Lego Star Wars: The Resistance Rises and Star Wars Battlefront II (beta version))
Rey is a fictional character in the Star Wars franchise portrayed by English actress Daisy Ridley. First appearing as the main character in Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens, Rey is a scavenger who was left behind on the planet Jakku when she was a child, and later becomes involved with the Resistance's conflict with the First Order when her solitary life is interrupted by BB-8, the droid of ace Resistance pilot Poe Dameron, and a runaway Stormtrooper named Finn.
Screenwriter Michael Arndt said that he found Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy's offer to write the Star Wars sequel trilogy daunting in mid-2012, but he became interested when it was explained to him that the tale was about the origin story of a female Jedi and he met with George Lucas. The character was a young woman known as Kira in the early stages of production, and Arndt described her as a "loner, hothead, gear-head, badass". Arndt said that he struggled with introducing the young woman as the main character in his story while keeping her from being overshadowed after her early meeting with Luke Skywalker. Ridley recalled that director and writer J. J. Abrams originally intended to name the character "Keera", but during filming in Abu Dhabi, Abrams revealed to Ridley that he was thinking of going with "Rey".
On creating a female lead for the new trilogy, Abrams stated that from his initial discussions with writer Lawrence Kasdan, he was excited at the concept of having a woman at the center of the story. He said that "We always wanted to write Rey as the central character" and that other female representation in the story was also important. Kennedy stated that, "Rey is the new generation's Luke Skywalker." Rey's background as a scavenger was part of the developers attempting to portray her as "the ultimate outsider and the ultimate disenfranchised person", due to their belief that a person of that nature would likely experience a prolonged journey compared to other types of people.
Daisy Ridley was largely unknown before being cast for the role of Rey. Ridley said that she auditioned many times for the role over the course of seven months and had to keep her casting a secret for three months. She was announced as part of the cast at the end of April 2014. She only had experience with small parts in TV shows. Her inexperience and lack of exposure were a crucial part of what convinced Abrams to give Ridley the role, as the previous installments had featured relatively unknown talent that would not experience heightened degrees of scrutiny. Abrams stated that Ridley "was so funny and had a great spark", as well as having her act out an emotional scene, proclaiming that "she nailed it on the first take." Abrams would go on to praise Ridley, stating "She was born with this gift to be in a moment and make it her own. She simultaneously works from the inside out and the outside in." Kennedy proclaimed "Daisy had a physicality and a self-confidence that was so important to the character we were looking for. She epitomizes that optimism where anything is possible." Director Dusan Lazarevic, who was present at the casting of Ridley for a role in British drama series Silent Witness, in addition to praising her acting range, stated "She showed a combination of vulnerability and strength which gave her a complexity, and there was an intelligence in her eyes that was an indicator she could play quite a complicated part." Cailey Fleming was additionally cast to portray a young Rey.
Although Ridley expressed that she was "riddled with doubts and insecurities", she stated that Rey's hopefulness is what she related to most in Rey, going on to say it "was something driving me through the auditions—even though it felt so insanely out of anything that I could've imagined." Ridley recalled her shooting experience as starting off bumpy, with Abrams telling her that her first few takes were "wooden". However, Ridley and Abrams had an "incredibly collaborative" process with creating Rey; Ridley recalled that the character "changed from when we first began, she became softer. And I think that's probably me, because Americans tend not to understand me, so it helped, slowing down the speech and everything just made it softer than I am." On her character, Ridley has stated that Rey will have "some impact in a girl power-y way", adding that the character "doesn't have to be one thing to embody a woman in a film. It just so happens she's a woman but she transcends gender. She's going to speak to men and women." In an interview with Elle, Ridley would continue describing her character, "She's so strong. She's cool and smart and she can look after herself," adding "Young girls can look at her and know that they can wear trousers if they want to. That they don't have to show off their bodies."
Composer John Williams said that he immediately loved Ridley in the film and that he found composing Rey's theme an interesting challenge. He said that her theme doesn't suggest a love theme, but rather a strong female adventurer character infused with the Force for a mature, thoughtful theme. Williams expressed that the "musical grammar" of Rey's theme is not heroic, but instead conveys an adventurous tone that needs to illustrate empathy."
Rey is introduced as a 19-year-old woman in The Force Awakens. Rey is stubborn, headstrong, brave, optimistic, and maintains fierce loyalty to her friends. In comparison to Luke, Matthew Yglesias of Vox said that "Rey is considerably less callow than Luke".
Megan Garber of The Atlantic argued that Rey "proves herself to be, in extremely short order, extremely adept as a fighter". Rey is highly Force-sensitive, which is revealed when she is presented with the lightsaber first owned by Anakin Skywalker, then his son Luke Skywalker. Without training, she is able to use advanced Force abilities and even defeat Kylo Ren in a duel, though he was already injured and using his power of the dark side to fight being weakened by his pain.
Rey lives alone on the planet Jakku, scraping a living through scavenging parts from ships while awaiting the return of the family that she was separated from as a child. She rescues the astromech droid BB-8 and encounters the runaway stormtrooper Finn. Attacked by First Order troops, Rey steals and pilots the Millennium Falcon to evade them and escape Jakku. The smuggler Han Solo and his partner Chewbacca capture the Falcon in their freighter ship. When dangerous gangs confront Han on the freighter, Rey mistakenly unleashes Han's vicious cargo. She saves Finn and they escape the freighter in the Falcon. Impressed with Rey, Han offers her a job on the Falcon; however, Rey declines his offer, feeling that she has to return to Jakku.
After they convene at Maz Kanata's castle on the planet Takodana to return BB-8 to the Resistance, the First Order is alerted to their presence. Rey is drawn to the castle's basement vault in which Maz has stored a lightsaber that belonged to Luke Skywalker and his father before him. Upon touching it, she experiences a terrifying vision: she sees a battle led by Kylo Ren, a flashback of her younger self being left behind on Jakku, and a vision of Luke, the last Jedi Master in the galaxy, who has been missing for several years. Maz argues that whoever abandoned her will never return to Jakku, and her only option is to seek out strength in the Force. Feeling overwhelmed, Rey rejects the lightsaber and flees into the forest.
The First Order attacks Maz's castle, and Ren captures Rey when the Resistance arrives. Ren takes her to Starkiller Base, where he probes her mind for the map piece that BB-8 showed her. Ren uses the Force to read Rey's mind, revealing Rey feels that Han is like the father she never had. Rey then resists him and reads Ren's emotions, exposing his fear that he will never be as powerful as Darth Vader. Ren reports to his master, Supreme Leader Snoke, who commands that Rey be brought before him. Left alone with a stormtrooper guarding her, Rey uses a Jedi mind trick to get him to help free her. After sneaking around inside the base looking for a way to escape, she is elated to find Finn, Han, and Chewbacca have come for her. They watch in horror as Ren kills his own father, Han.
As they try to escape the base through the forest, Ren challenges Rey and Finn, using his lightsaber. After Ren seriously injures Finn and disarms him of Luke's lightsaber, Rey uses the Force to retrieve the weapon and battles the already wounded Ren. Initially overpowered, Rey rejects Ren's offer to train her and uses the Force with the lightsaber to defeat him. After escaping the destroyed planet in the Millennium Falcon with Chewbacca and the wounded Finn, she returns to the Resistance base. While the Resistance celebrates the victory, Rey mourns Han's death with Leia Organa and visits Finn, who is still unconscious. She decides to seek out Luke's location, using information provided by BB-8 and the re-activated R2-D2. Rey, Chewbacca, and R2 travel in the Falcon to the oceanic planet of Ahch-To; upon finding Luke, Rey presents him with his lost lightsaber.
Rey is featured in Star Wars: Before the Awakening (2015) by Greg Rucka, an anthology book for young readers that focuses on the lives of Poe, Rey and Finn before the events of The Force Awakens. Rey's Survival Guide (2015) by Jason Fry is a first-person account from Rey's perspective about herself and her home planet of Jakku. Rey is also a point of view character in the 2015 novelization of The Force Awakens by Alan Dean Foster.
Fans noticed a lack of tie-in toys featuring Rey. Hasbro released a version of Monopoly based on The Force Awakens that excluded the Rey character. After receiving criticism, Hasbro stated that they did not include Rey to avoid revealing spoilers, and would be including Rey in future toy releases. Paul Southern, the head of Lucasfilm licensing, said that they wanted to protect the secrets that "the Force awakens in Rey" and that her character carries a lightsaber. He said that demand for Rey products was underestimated. Abrams said, "I will say that it seems preposterous and wrong that the main character of the movie is not well represented in what is clearly a huge piece of the Star Wars world in terms of merchandising." Regarding Rey's relative absence in Star Wars merchandising, CBBC presenter and voice actor Christopher Johnson stated: "It still baffles me to this day that some toy manufacturers don't think that girls want to play with 'superhero' toys and that boys aren't interested in female characters."
Rey is one of the central characters of The Last Jedi. Picking up directly where The Force Awakens left off, Rey presents Luke with his lightsaber, but Luke dismissively throws it aside and ignores Rey. She tells him that she has come on behalf of Leia and the Resistance to bring him home and end the fight against the First Order. Luke rejects this, and asks Rey why she personally came to Ahch-To. She confides in him her experiences with the Force, and tells him that she is afraid of her own abilities and potential. Luke eventually agrees to give Rey three lessons of the ways of the Force. Through these lessons, Rey demonstrates immense raw strength and a clear temptation toward the dark side of the Force that reminds Luke of Kylo Ren, who was once his nephew and student, Ben Solo. All the while, Rey feels a sudden connection through the Force with Ren, who tells her that Luke tried to kill him while he was the Jedi master’s student (Luke later tells her that he was tempted to kill Ben after seeing a vision of the pain and suffering he would cause, but relented). In one of their conversations, Rey and Ren touch hands, and through this Rey swears that she is able to feel conflict within Ren, and becomes determined to turn him back to the light side. Rey asks Luke once more to come with her and rejoin the Resistance, but when he refuses, Rey, Chewbacca, and R2-D2 leave without him.
Ren takes Rey prisoner and brings her before Snoke. Snoke tells her that he created the Force connection between her and Ren as a trap to reach Luke. Snoke tortures and taunts Rey, showing her the attack on the Resistance transports, and eventually orders Ren to kill her. Ren instead kills Snoke, and he and Rey fight Snoke's guards side by side. The duel won, Ren asks Rey to join him and create a new order separate from the legacies of Snoke and Luke, but Rey refuses. In an attempt to get her to turn, Ren gets Rey to admit what she had always known all along and had hidden it away for years: Rey's parents were "nobody", and, in Ren's words, were two-bit junk dealers who sold her off for drinking money, and are long dead. Despite the revelation, Rey refuses to join him and uses the Force to summon Luke's lightsaber, but Ren does so, too, resulting in a standoff that ultimately tears the lightsaber in two. Shortly afterwards, Resistance leader Vice Admiral Holdo rams her cruiser into Snoke's flagship, separating Rey from Ren.
Rey is later revealed to have made her way back to the Millennium Falcon, manning the guns as Chewbacca pilots, aiding the Resistance in fighting the First Order’s troops. Despite their best efforts, the battle turns out to be a loss for the Resistance, and Rey focuses her efforts on finding the surviving Resistance fighters to help evacuate them. Eventually, she finds the Resistance fighters behind a dead end, and uses the Force to move the rocky barrier aside, clearing the path for them to board the Falcon. Rey reunites with Finn and Leia, and meets Poe Dameron for the first time aboard the Falcon. Rey feels Luke’s death through the Force, and reassures Leia that he met his end with "peace and purpose". As she holds the remains of Luke's lightsaber, Rey asks Leia how they can rebuild the Resistance from what remains, and Leia, gesturing towards Rey, says that they now have all they need. Unknown to Leia, that includes the fact that Rey stole the sacred Jedi texts from Luke before he decided to burn them, thus enabling her to learn the ways of the Force by herself.
Star Wars Rebels (2014)
Rey makes a brief cameo as a disembodied voice in the television series Star Wars Rebels, in the episode "A World Between Worlds". In the episode, set 16 years before her birth and 35 years before The Force Awakens, the young padawan Ezra Bridger briefly hears some of her lines from the film (specifically her speaking to the unconscious Finn at the end) in the World Between Worlds, a dimension that exists outside of time and space.
The character of Rey appears in the video games Disney Infinity 3.0, Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and Star Wars Battlefront II (2017), both voiced by Ridley, as well as the strategy video game Star Wars: Force Arena.
The character and Ridley's portrayal have received critical acclaim. Joe Morgenstern of The Wall Street Journal proclaimed that Rey is "a woman warrior with the stylish ferocity of a kung-fu star", praising "the verve [Ridley] must have been born with plus the skill she must have acquired as a young actress coming up in England", later adding "It's hard to imagine what the movie—and the sequels to come—might have been if they'd cast the wrong person, but here Daisy Ridley is in all her unassuming glory, and all's right with the galaxy". Adam Howard of MSNBC stated that "one of the most pleasant surprises of the film has been the strength of its lead female character", adding that some have likened Rey to a "new feminist icon". Relatedly, Emily Rome of HitFix argued that Rey is "everything we wanted in a Star Wars female character", praising her for being a character that is "independent, skilled, scrappy, tough, and doesn't need saving". In a personal essay, Nicole Sperling of Entertainment Weekly wrote about her daughters feeling empowered after viewing the film, stating, "They never commented on how pretty Rey is. They never had to flinch because Rey was a sexual object to some man in power. They just felt strong. Equal".
Some fans opined that Rey is too skilled despite her inexperience during The Force Awakens, making her a Mary Sue. Rome wrote that "the speed with which Rey mastered Jedi mind tricks and lightsaber fighting with zero training is the stuff of fan fiction. Rey is geek feminist wish-fulfillment". Tasha Robinson of The Verge said that Rey "keeps falling into standard-issue damsel-in-distress situations, then capably rescuing herself". Robinson wrote "Rey is kind of a Mary Sue character" and that "She's a fantasy wish-fulfillment character with outsized skills, an inhuman reaction time, and a clever answer to every question—but so are the other major Star Wars heroes." Other outlets have argued that the term Mary Sue carries an inherent gender bias, and that categorizing Rey as one holds her to a double standard as the male characters from the original trilogy did not face comparable criticism. Caroline Framke of Vox wrote "While my kneejerk reaction to criticism of Rey was that it's absolutely in the wrong, I have to admit that questioning her merits isn't inherently misogynistic. The real problem is that there's an undeniable false equivalence at play".
Rey's unique hairstyle attracted attention before and after The Force Awakens was released, being compared to Princess Leia's hairdo during the original trilogy with debate over whether it would become as popular. Rey has also been compared to the character Nausicaa, from the 1984 Hayao Miyazaki anime film Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, including a generally similar personality and strikingly similar headwear.
Richard Roeper described Ridley's portrayal of Rey as "a breakout performance", continuing by calling the character "tough and resourceful and smart and brave". Ridley was nominated for a 2016 Saturn Award for Best Actress for her portrayal. The first Reel Women in Technology Award for a fictional character was awarded to the character Rey.
The question of Rey's parentage has been a significant point of discussion for the series, and has spawned numerous fan theories. The most popular theories are that she is the daughter of Luke Skywalker or Han Solo, or is Obi-Wan Kenobi's granddaughter (because of a scene where Rey hears Kenobi's echoed voice following a vision in The Force Awakens). The view that she is Luke's daughter is especially prominent, with fans and critics highlighting their story arc similarities, Star Wars being a Skywalker saga, Rey having a strong attachment to Luke's lightsaber, and being exceptionally strong with the Force without any training. Some fan theories about Rey's parentage pointed to "Rey's Theme" featured in John Williams' score of The Force Awakens, as the theme shared similarities with the themes for Darth Vader and Luke.
Abrams stated that he intentionally withheld Rey's last name and background in The Force Awakens. He said that he felt that the origin of Kylo Ren was the only thing that could be revealed in his film and that he knew "quite a bit" about Rey's origin but would give courtesy to Star Wars: The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson by not saying any more. Former Star Wars: Episode IX director Colin Trevorrow stated that the answer of Rey's origin would be "deeply and profoundly satisfying" and that Rey is "important in this universe, not just in the context of The Force Awakens, but in the entire galaxy. She deserves it." Ridley said that she knew who Rey's parents were.
In The Last Jedi, a conversation between Rey and Kylo Ren implies that Rey's parents were insignificant. Rey is coaxed by Kylo into admitting they were "nobody", a revelation that Kylo tells Rey she already knew. Todd VanDerWerff of Vox equated this scene with Luke finding out that Darth Vader is his father, which was his greatest nightmare. To VanDerWerff, "Rey's greatest nightmare is being no one." He added that Kylo Ren "has every reason to be lying" in this instance because "he's trying to get Rey to let the past—Jedi, Sith, Rebellion, Empire, First Order, etc., etc., etc.—crumble to dust," but that "in a weird way, it's a kind of meta-commentary on a franchise that is seeking a new future, while still being indebted enough to its past that it continually recycles itself." He said that it is a good thing that "Rey is the child of nobody of particular importance to the story so far." Josh Spiegel of The Hollywood Reporter stated that although some fans may be disappointed by the reveal that Rey's parents are nobodies, "it fits in perfectly with the message Rian Johnson sends all the way to the very last scene" which is that "knowing that Rey is both exceptionally gifted in the Force and also not a Skywalker or someone along those bloodlines emphasizes" that "the spirit of the Jedi extends beyond those like Luke, to anyone with a gift and the power to believe."
Conversely, although Casey Cipriani of Bustle recognized that Kylo Ren might be right about Rey's parents, she opined that he is "unreliable" and that "we have to take what he says with a grain of salt and look elsewhere [within the story] for hints of Rey's lineage."
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