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For Daisy Ridley, ‘Time Took On a Slightly Different Meaning’ During the SXSW Premiere of ‘Magpie’

Daisy Ridley’s first order of business upon arriving in Austin was to get tacos. The actress had flown in for SXSW  from Australia, where she’s in the middle of filming her next project, and was making the most of her brief trip before heading back.

“Everyone had said the audiences here are amazing,” say Ridley, who premiered her film “Magpie” the evening before and was getting ready to soon board a plane back to Australia. Ridley leads the film, which she developed and produced with husband Tom Bateman, who wrote the script. “It was strange that the film seemed to go so quickly. Time took on a slightly different meaning, because you’re hyper-aware of how people are feeling around you.”

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She describes the experience as “surreal.” “It was an amazing audience reaction, and really fun being in the room and hearing people go on the ride of the film,” says Ridley of attending the premiere. “And then because I’ve only been here for 48 hours, and I’m going back to a film that I’m in the middle of, I feel like this will feel like it never happened — or it did happen, and it was some weird fever dream.”

Ridley was on set when the news that the film was headed to SXSW arrived in her inbox. “I had a really intense day on set, and was in my trailer Facetiming my husband, saw the email that said we got in, was crying my eyes out. Like, ‘oh my god, I can’t believe we got in!’ And then he goes, ‘look, I don’t want to overwhelm you, but I got the role in ‘Hedda Gabler’ — he just did the film version of Hedda opposite Tessa Thompson — so I was like, ‘oh my god, I’m so proud of you!’” she says. ”It was such an intense evening.”

Their work on “Magpie” started with “a real germ of an idea,” says Ridley. “Which initially was an actress who was cast as the mother of a little girl in a film, and basically sees that [family] life and wants it.” Writing the film, Bateman was drawn to center the story on the child’s real off-screen mother, who watches as the actress infiltrates her family and strikes up an affair with her husband.

“Magpie” marks Ridley’s first time being involved with the casting process. The team called on Shazad Latif, a longtime friend of Bateman’s, to costar in the male lead role, and Matilda Lutz rounds out the main cast.

“Each piece was like a chef’s kiss puzzle piece slotting in and adding to the depth of this film,” says Ridley. “With the crew, we called on a lot of resources. A lot of people helped us out. A lot of our crew were people either that we knew and admired — or we didn’t know but admired.”

RIdley is returning to production for “We Bury the Dead,” a zombie film about a woman searching for her husband on Tasmania after a nuclear experiment gone awry. “It’s also a meditation on grief,” says Ridley. “You learn over the course of the film what they had been going through in their life. And it’s wonderful — gorgeous crew, gorgeous cast. I’m excited to get back to filming.”

Her next film, “Young Woman at the Sea,” will be released in May; Ridley stars as swimmer Gertrude Ederle, the first woman to swim across the English Channel. A new “Star Wars” film is in development as well, but is still a couple years away from fruition.

“I find myself drawn towards all different sorts of things in different genres. I really love to work, and I love to work with people I admire,” says Ridley. “I can’t believe I get to do this.”

Daisy Ridley
Daisy Ridley

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