General Leia Organa’s demonstration of her Force powers in Star Wars: The Last Jedi is something fans have long wanted to see, but the scene was a bit confusing for Daisy Ridley. Leia, of course, is the daughter of Anakin Skywalker, meaning she inherited a fair amount of Force sensitivity. Some of the previous Star Wars films illustrated this in subtle ways (telepathically communicating with Luke Skywalker, sensing Han Solo’s death), but Episode VIII went for broke with an awe-inspiring depiction of her abilities. Sent flying into space after the Resistance’s command ship was attacked, Leia’s survival instincts kicked in and she flew back to safety.
This scene is one of the many reasons The Last Jedi went on to become the most divisive entry in the franchise to date, with some people ridiculing the image of “Leia Poppins” and others feeling it was a powerful moment. For more casual fans whose knowledge of the galaxy far, far away isn’t very extensive, Leia channeling the Force could have come as a surprise they’re still trying to figure out. Oddly enough, you can count Ridley among that group.
During a Q&A session for The Last Jedi (hat tip CinemaBlend), Ridley confessed she was unclear on Leia’s connection to the Force and is still in the process of learning what she wants to know:
“Because I wasn’t so knowledgeable of the Star Wars thing, I still have questions about what it all means. Like when people talk about Jedi and stuff like that I remember having a conversation with one of our executive producers on VII, Michelle, and I said, ‘But surely Leia’s a Jedi, because she’s Force sensitive and she’s challenged.’ She’s not challenged in the same ways as Luke, but like she’s doing stuff for the good and everything like that. I still don’t quite have my answer, like is she a Jedi? I dunno.”
It’ll be easy for die-hard fans to roll their eyes at this and criticize Ridley’s ignorance, but there are some things to keep in mind. Just because someone is acting in new Star Wars movies doesn’t mean they’re an enthusiastic fan of the property. For instance, Kelly Marie Tran (Rose in The Last Jedi) hadn’t seen any of the previous films prior to her casting, and Ridley herself didn’t know exactly what she was in for when she signed on to play Rey. Though the movies are relatively straightforward in their storytelling and execution, the intricacies of the mythology can get lost on those who aren’t well-versed in the lore. Even the most ardent followers of Star Wars have questions about certain aspects, so Ridley’s query isn’t entirely farfetched. An argument can be made Lucasfilm should coach their talent on the ins and outs of Star Wars, but Ridley’s lack of knowledge hasn’t prevented her from crafting a memorable character in Rey.
The answer to Ridley’s question, as some may know, is that Leia is not a Jedi. In the non-movie canon materials, it’s been revealed Yoda wanted to train her as the Order’s last hope and she began to experiment with her abilities after Return of the Jedi, but Leia ultimately turned down Luke’s offer to be his first student. Leia had an obligation to the burgeoning New Republic and felt she would be better served fulfilling her duties there. Instead, she sent her son Ben to be trained by Luke, a decision that changed the course of the galaxy. Kylo Ren is now the Supreme Leader of the First Order, waging a war against a group of freedom fighters led by Leia.
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