Daisy Ridley on Star Wars, nostalgia and action figures

The actor says that George Lucas's space franchise is ahead of its time - and that she misses cuddles from her parents when she's off filming in a galaxy, far, far away

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Studio Ghibli’s nostalgia-soaked animation Only Yesterday came out in 1991, but a welcome re-release sees new voices breath fresh life into it. Daisy Ridley narrates the film about the unmarried 27-year-old Taeko as she travels to the countryside, remembers her school days and strikes up a romance with farmer Toshio. It’s impossible to watch without being overwhelmed by nostalgia.

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So we asked the Star Wars actor about looking back into the past…

Are you a nostalgic person?

Absolutely, although I’m torn between the past and the future – anxiety is in the future and depression is in the past, and if you lived in the present you’d just be happy.

What do you miss about home when you’re away?

Cuddles. I crave my parents. I still sit on my mum’s lap and she’s like, ‘Oh my god can you move, you’re not a baby any more!’ When I was growing up the TV was never on during meals, we’d always sit down and have dinner together for hours and hours.

Can you remember the first film or TV show you were obsessed with? 

Tracy Beaker! I loved Tracy Beaker.  it was actually pretty amazing to feature children in a care home in a show for young kids.

What did you want to be when you grew up? 

I wanted to be a zoologist, because I loved animals. I wanted to spend every day with animals. But now I totally disagree with zoos. 

When did you know you wanted to be an actress?

I didn’t really. I went to performing arts school, because I was naughty and my parents thought if I was kept busy I wouldn’t be naughty any more. But even then it wasn’t like, ‘THIS is what I want to do!’

But you’re certain now?

Yes, I know I’m very lucky. I’m not set for life, but I’m set for a few years, and that doesn’t happen very often this young. Which is kind of sickening…

You’re 24: do you feel old?

I feel like I aged a lot in the last year, and I’m re-finding my youth. I know, if I was reading this I would be like. ‘Someone put a rag in her mouth!’ But people are always saying, ‘I wish I looked how I was when I was 20’, so I’m going to appreciate it now. 

Star Wars is steeped in nostalgia for many people. Were you aware of that?

I wasn’t so aware of it until afterwards, but it doesn’t really feel like nostalgia. It’s always been of its time and ahead of its time – a cyclical thing for families, passed down through generations like a tradition.

So is it OK for adults to play with action figures? Shouldn’t we all put our childish things away?

Absolutely not. I usually hate inspirational quotes, but I read one that says: ‘Children are the answer’. They tend to be kind and more conscious of other people. Children’s intuition usually leads to the right decision.

Is there any other advice you would give your younger self?

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I was quite a serious child, so I would say keep going, it’s all going to be OK. I wouldn’t change, because I’m a firm believer in ‘everything happens for a reason’. You have to experience things to learn the lessons.

Only Yesterday is released in UK cinemas on Friday 3rd June as part of the Studio Ghibli Forever Season