She might not appear in The Rise of Skywalker, but Jessica Henwick isn’t complaining with a super-slate of projects on the horizon including Underwater, Godzilla vs. Kong, Monster Problems and Matrix 4. As Episode IX approaches the billion Jess discusses her long audition for The Force Awakens and the role she originally auditioned for – Rey.
THR: was The Force Awakens a lengthy casting process?
JH: Oh my God, dude. That was ******* six months. That was a long one. I was auditioning for a different character, actually, so I spent six months auditioning for that character. And then, at the end, J.J. said, “I want you to be in the film, but I want to write a character for you.” That’s how Jess Pava was created. So, it was a very, very long experience. It’s hard because I’ve been doing this long enough to know that you go in, audition, put it to the back of your mind, don’t think about it and don’t get emotionally invested. But, after six months, you can’t help but just desperately want it. I’m also such a big J.J. fan. So, I was a mess at the end of those six months. [Editor’s Note: Henwick was a finalist for Rey.]
THR: What do you remember most about shooting your X-wing cockpit scenes at Pinewood?
JH: The thing I remember the most is that all the other actors would get motion sickness. We got into this plane rig, and it would lift you up twenty feet in the air. It would also move like a rollercoaster. The other actors could only do 10-15 minutes of filming before they would get sick, have to stop and come down to get back on their feet. So, I was the one who was up there saying, “No, keep rolling! I’ll just start riffing.” I love roller coasters so I thought it was hilarious.
THR: I didn’t realize how popular Jess Pava (X-wing pilot Blue Three) is in fan circles and fan fiction. Apparently, they want her to date Rey, hence the “BlueRey” portmanteau fans have coined for them. Are you always amazed when fans devote that kind of energy to your characters?
JH: (Laughs.) Yeah! It was lovely. I think people really connected to the fact that she was the first female X-wing pilot that we’ve seen — in the films, anyway. The amount of fan fiction and fan art was beautiful. That community is wonderful.