The British actress opened up about dealing with anxiety and isolating herself after being cast as Rey in the ‘Star Wars’ franchise
The 31-year-old actress — who starred as Rey in the most recent trilogy — recently spoke to Inverse about how drastically her life changed after director J. J. Abrams offered her the role 10 years ago.
After being cast, she recalled Abrams, 57, telling her, “Understand the scale. This is not a role in a movie. This is a religion for people. It changes things on a level that is inconceivable.”
“When all of the craziness was going on, I was like, ‘I’m good. I’m good. I’m coping fine. Everything’s fine.’ And I was fine, for the most part. But I think what I was really grappling with was that it was my normal, but it was not normal to other people,” Ridley told the outlet.
Ridley admitted that the pressure was ultimately taking a toll on her and she started isolating herself.
“For friends and family, or any people who see something in a slightly different way than you do, there’s this projection of you, and you in that world, and how it feels to do this and that,” she explained. “And you’re like, ‘Well, actually, I’m just a human being, separate from that.’ It’s quite this wrestle, of the reality and the fantasy that’s often projected onto you.”
By the time The Last Jedi premiered in 2017, the British actress’ anxiety was so severe that she developed “holes in her stomach wall,” forcing her to slow down and take a six-month sabbatical before filming the trilogy finale, The Rise of Skywalker.
“After the last Star Wars came out and everything was quiet, I was like, ‘What the f—?’ I was grieving,” Ridley told the outlet, noting that the COVID-19 pandemic gave her time to focus on self care and overcome her anxiety.
“Having to sit and just be still in lockdown was incredibly helpful, in a way I hadn’t anticipated,” she said. “I realized there was a lot that I hadn’t processed properly.”
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Ridley first spoke about developing holes in her gut during a 2020 interview with GQ, explaining how her anxiety and exhaustion became debilitating.
“I saw a picture of me at the London premiere [for The Last Jedi] and I was so skinny and my skin was terrible,” she said at the time. “My body was just f—ed up. I got tests done and it turned out my body was taking in no nutrients. I was just like a little skeleton and I was just so tired. I was becoming a ghost.”
At the time, Ridley told Glamour UK that therapy was actually a great solution for her to get her mental health on track.
“I went to therapy for a bit, which was great. Cause a lot of it was about feeling out of control, cause I'm quite controlling in that I like to know what's going on, and suddenly you're in a situation where you have no idea what's going on. You don't know if people are gonna look at you, you don't know if people are gonna be somewhere. Like you don't know to what extent, your day is gonna go.”
Ridley explained that in addition to therapy, she’s learned to take time for herself if she feels her mental wellbeing falling off.
“If I don't wanna go out, I won't go out. If I don't wanna see people, I won't see people. Facial, massage, all of the things that keep you feeling good, too,” she said.
If you or someone you know needs mental health help, text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor.
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