Ridley played the role of Rey in three “Star Wars” sequels from 2015 to 2019. Her character was an orphaned junk dealer living in extreme poverty on a distant desert planet before she was whisked into a war between the evil First Order and the brave Resistance. While Rey fit the mold for a classical, archetypal hero character that “Star Wars” trades in, many essays began appearing accusing the character of being a Mary Sue. A Mary Sue, for those unfamiliar with the term, was coined in 1973 in “Star Trek” fanzines and refers to a fictional female character, usually seen in established media franchises, that may function as a “fan-insert” character. They often are lacking in human flaws and possess a great deal of power. Rey doesn’t quite fit the definition, but the term was used nonetheless.
Ridley, in talking to Rolling Stone, wasn’t aware of said accusations and had wisely gone on a social media fast while the “Star Wars” films were in production. It wasn’t until complete strangers approached Ridley in public that she would understand that some people didn’t quite like the new movies. She said:
“The funny thing is, because I don’t read stuff and wasn’t on social media for a while, when I was referring to how people can have big opinions about it, random people in the street would be so open with their opinions and I would be like, ‘I’m good. I don’t need to hear that. Cool. Great.’ As a person, whether I liked a film or not, I would never go up to a person and go, ‘I hated your film,’ because I’m a human being. It was probably more gendered than I was aware of.”