How Daisy Ridley, John Boyega and the Cast of 'Star Wars' Said Farewell to a Galaxy Far, Far Away

Stars Daisy Ridley, John Boyega and Oscar Isaac talk to PEOPLE about saying goodbye to the trilogy that made them famous

Is The Rise of Skywalker really the end for the new generation of Star Wars characters — especially heroes Rey, Finn and Poe? More stories are always a possibility in this expanding universe (“no one’s ever really gone”), but for now, these actors are saying goodbye.

“I’ll miss getting a hello and a nice hug every day,” says actress Daisy Ridley of playing Rey alongside her castmates, part of the behind-the-scenes stores Ridley shares in PEOPLE’s new special issue, Star Wars: The Essential Guide to The Rise of Skywalker.”

Ridley was virtually unknown when cast as the Luke-like protagonist of this latest Star Wars trilogy. John Boyega and Oscar Isaac had more roles under their belts when stepping in as Finn and Poe, respectively, but nowhere close to “I have my own action figure” levels. Director J.J. Abrams wanted fresh faces for these roles, in the spirit of Star Wars creator George Lucas casting Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford in the original trilogy.

Now 27, Ridley has grown up with Rey since 2015’s The Force Awakens, forced to manage galactic fame with fortunes hanging in the balance. “Just like Rey, I’m surrounded by great people,” she says. “I carry myself better now. I’m really happy with where I am now.”

Daisy Ridley and John Boyega participate in the global press conference for "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker" at the Pasadena Convention Center on December 04, 2019 in Pasadena, California
Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty

Rey looks to have a final face-off with a resurrected Emperor in The Rise of Skywalker, amid a fan theory that Rey could represent the launch of Jedi 2.0. All Ridley will say about that is, she felt good about doing Episode IX stunts: “I got my green belt in kickboxing, which I was thrilled about.”

Boyega will also only tease how The Rise of Skywalker plays out. “Finn is a fighter in a war that’s been spoken about for so many years,” says Boyega, who, like Ridley, is also a 27-year-old British actor. “It’s the end of the Skywalker saga, and it confirms a lot of things.”

The cast of the upcoming film, “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” (l-r): Anthony Daniels, Oscar Isaac, John Boyega, director J.J. Abrams, Daisy Ridley, Kelly Marie Tran, Naomi Ackie and Keri Russell pose in front of the Millennium Falcon in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland Park in Anaheim, Calif., Dec. 2, 2019, while promoting “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” in theaters December 20
Anthony Daniels, Oscar Isaac, John Boyega, director J.J. Abrams, Daisy Ridley, Kelly Marie Tran, Naomi Ackie and Keri Russell. Richard Harbaugh/Disneyland Resort

While Rey and Finn may have always been destined to see the end of this war, Poe was going to die in 2015’s The Force Awakens, at least in an early script. Then Isaac and Abrams got to talking about story possibilities and, four years later, Poe is leading the charge in Episode IX. “You really get to know who Poe is in Rise of Skywalker,” Isaac says. “He’s not this lone wolf anymore, flying on his own. He’s part of a team.”

That evolution comes just in time for this Star Wars finale. More movies and streaming shows are coming but may seem far, far away right now. And after 1983’s Return of the Jedi, Hamill, Fisher and Ford thought they were saying goodbye to Star Wars too.

But over the course of these latest three movies, Ridley has gotten used to being an action figure and is ready for more heroic roles. “I would do it again in a heartbeat,” she says. “I just want to continue working with awesome people.”

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker opens Dec. 20.

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