Success

'The Rise of Skywalker' star Daisy Ridley was pouring beer for 'minimum wage' when she landed 'Star Wars'

Daisy Ridley reprises her role as Rey in "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker."
Disney

In a span of less than five years, Daisy Ridley has gone from pouring beers for minimum wage to wielding a lightsaber for a multibillion-dollar movie franchise.

The British actress stars as Rey in Disney's new "Star Wars" trilogy, which finishes on Friday with the release of the third installment, "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker." But when she first landed that life-changing role roughly five years ago, Ridley was still working in a pub in London making under $10 an hour.

"Not to float my own boat, but I'm a really good bartender, because I worked in two different pubs for, like a year-and-a-half, in a rowdy London district," Ridley told Jimmy Fallon on NBC's "The Tonight Show" in November 2017.

The 27-year-old actress added that she worked behind the bar at the London pubs in her early 20s, only stopping around the time she landed her breakout role ahead of 2015's "Star Wars: The Force Awakens." When Ridley was announced as the star of that film, in April 2014, she had previously only landed small roles in short films and U.K. television shows like "Casualty" and "Mr. Selfridge."

Aside from landing the occasional small acting role, at the time Ridley was getting by making "minimum wage" as a bartender, she told The New York Times in 2015. In 2014, the minimum wage in the U.K. for workers over the age of 21 was £6.50 (about $8.50) per hour, according to the British Government.

Ridley, who attended a high school for performing arts north of London, also told The New York Times how she had struggled for a few years after high school while trying to break into an acting career.

VIDEO1:2701:27
Disney opens Rise of the Resistance ride at Star Wars theme park

"I auditioned for this [acting] agency," she says of how she first got into acting. "I got an advertisement first, and then something else, which I got fired from. It was soul-destroying. And then the next thing I got I thought was going to be my big break, and they cut the role [from the movie "The Inbetweeners 2"]."

Eventually, Ridley's agents got her an audition for "The Force Awakens" and the actress later told Refinery 29 that she showed up an hour early for her audition, because it was "definitely the most nervous I've ever been for an audition."

In fact, when the film's director, J.J. Abrams, eventually called Ridley to tell her she had the part, Ridley still didn't quite believe him.

"J.J. rang me. And it's weird, because I thought I was still half-auditioning," she told The New York Times. "I thought I had to convince him. I was like, 'I could totally do this.' Thinking, 'I can't do this.' And then he told me and I'm pretty sure I was like: 'Are you sure? Are you sure?'

The movie went on to set box office records, grossing more than $2.07 billion worldwide, while catapulting Ridley to international stardom. The 2017 follow-up, "The Last Jedi," grossed an also impressive $1.3 billion worldwide, while the trilogy's final installment, "The Rise of Skywalker," is also expected to clear well over $1 billion at the box office once it hits theaters on Dec. 20.

Because Ridley was a relatively unknown actress when she was cast in the franchise, though, she reportedly only earned a salary in the low six-figures for "The Force Awakens" (between $100,000 and $300,000), according to Variety. Those numbers likely increased for subsequent franchise installments, though Disney does not release salary figures for the movies' stars.

Meanwhile, Ridley has also gone on to star in other films, such as 2017's "Murder on the Orient Express," which pulled in more than $350 million worldwide.

And, despite her acting success, Ridley still remembers her bartending skills fondly. The actress showed Fallon how to pour a proper pint of beer in a "Tonight Show" segment in 2019, and she also jumped behind the bar at the 2016 wrap party for "The Last Jedi" in Ireland, where she poured drinks for her castmates.

Fallon asked Ridley if she can pour a pint of Guinness. "Oh yeah. I can do it all," the actress replied.

Disclosure: NBC and CNBC are both owned by the same parent company, NBCUniversal.

Don't Miss:

See what Disney's new 'Star Wars' Galactic Starcruiser hotel will look like

How serving as a Marine prepared Adam Driver for 'Star Wars' and success

Like this story? Subscribe to CNBC Make It on YouTube!

VIDEO1:0601:06
This breakout lead used her ‘Star Wars’ salary to pay off student loans
make it

Stay in the loop

Sign Up

About Us

Learn More

Follow Us

CNBC.COM