The role of Rey from the new Star Wars trilogy is now as iconic as Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia, with all three managing to mesh perfectly by the end of The Rise of Skywalker. If (spoilers) Rey is now an adopted Skywalker, it doesn’t mean the character is completely done.
Not that anyone but Daisy Ridley should ever play her again.
It turns out there was an actress considered for the part back when auditions were underway. What makes this story maddening is the actress auditioned for an arduous six months, only to be told she wouldn’t be landing the part anyway.
Most fans were happy Ridley ultimately got the job. However, it’s surprising to learn that Marvel actress Jessica Henwick was the one who almost beat Ridley out.
Jessica Henwick would have made a great Rey as well
There have already been some gripes about the lack of Asian representation in the Star Wars saga. While Kelly Marie Tran managed to make a memorable impression as Rose Tico, many fans complained she was relegated to the sidelines in The Rise of Skywalker in favor of the other storylines.
If there’s a valid argument in Tran’s favor there, at least the story of Henwick does have a silver lining. Even then, it’s probably going to make everyone wonder why she was passed over as Rey after investing so much emotional heart into the role while auditioning.
Henwick has had a successful acting career, particularly for Marvel when starring in their Netflix series Iron Fist. She revealed to The Hollywood Reporter recently she was one of many who auditioned for Rey, yet seemed like she was going to be the final choice.
Considering J.J. Abrams put her through six months of grueling audition work, Henwick thought it would change her career trajectory. What was it that made Abrams ultimately go for Ridley over Henwick? We may never really know.
Are ‘Star Wars’ auditions too stressful?
Even Tran has revealed she had to audition for five months just to win the role of Rose Tico. It proves that being a part of the Star Wars universe is a major emotional sacrifice, no matter if one lands the job or not.
Placing actresses through something like this doesn’t seem like the best ethical move. Because it always changes the life of the actor involved, it’s apparently an early endurance test for what they’ll have to deal with in their career/real life.
Perhaps Henwick realizes now what she’s doing now instead was a better trajectory than a possible typecasting playing Rey.
No doubt a lot of people are going to think Henwick didn’t become Rey just because the producers wanted a white female out of so-called tradition. What makes such a thing more tolerable is J.J. Abrams’ thoughtfulness in retaining Henwick for a smaller role in The Force Awakens.
Abrams wrote another part for Henwick (Jess Pava, an X-Wing pilot) that made an appearance in TFA, plus more in Star Wars comic books.
Jessica Henwick ultimately had the chance to diversify her acting career
Thanks to her part in Iron Fist, Henwick is very much in demand as an actress. While she says she’s sorry she can’t continue her role as Colleen Wing in Iron Fist due to Marvel canceling all their TV shows, the roles she’s landed since are substantial.
After all, she was in Game of Thrones for two years (playing Nymeria Sand), she’ll be in Matrix 4, plus she’s already in a popular sci-fi movie with Kristen Stewart called Underwater. In this regard, maybe it’s a blessing she didn’t have to deal with the weight of playing Rey in a time when franchise films can still bring a typecasting curse.
In comparison, Ridley hasn’t found much box office success in anything else beyond Star Wars, though likely will once the Rey saga is farther away in cinematic memory.