The newest 'Star Wars' actors reveal what their secretive auditions were really like

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Star Wars: The Force Awakens Cast Reflects On First Star Wars Memories

What's it like to go after a starring role on one of the most sought-after movie franchises in history?

It takes months and you can't tell a soul you're doing it.

That's what we've found out from the new leading actors of "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" since the film came out in December, became a global sensation in no time at all, and permanently changed their lives.

Here, we take a look at the experiences of three actors on the film:

Daisy Ridley, aka Rey

Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

The London actress who would become Rey in the movie was working at a pub when she began to hear rumors that casting had begun for the new "Star Wars" movie and that director J.J. Abrams was considering unknown names. (Ridley's biggest experience before "Star Wars" extended to bit parts in British TV dramas.) She hounded her agent to get her an audition, which led to four callbacks before she got the role.

Though she clearly seemed right for the part, that doesn't mean Ridley knew much about the "Force Awakens" plot. She recalled her puzzlement when getting select pages in the early audition phase: "I was like, 'Ah, who's this girl and this older man?' I didn't put two and two together. Someone's like, 'That was probably Han Solo.' I had no idea."


John Boyega, aka Finn

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Boyega also had help from his agent to put him on the path to scoring the role of Finn. Though he got a little attention as the star of the UK sci-fi hit "Attack the Block" in 2011, that didn't really soften his path to getting into "Star Wars," as he went through seven months of auditions.

Boyega has said that to power through the first few, he would go back and watch auditions from the original cast. "There was this casual approach to danger and to being a hero that I drew some inspiration from," explained Boyega. "If you see Harrison in his audition and Mark, there's this, 'The ship's about to blow up, but, woo hoo! Switch to light speed!' I love that. No other movie does that."


Joonas Suotamo, aka the new Chewbacca

Joonas Suotamo

The double of original Chewbacca actor Peter Mayhew was playing pro basketball in his native Finland and selling insurance to make ends meet when he was told a movie production (under a code name) was looking for a seven-footer for a role.

After sending an audition tape of himself playing a caveman, Suotamo began making treks to London for his auditions, and realized the part he was going after. "I took three trips there [during the audition], and on the first time I got more details and realized what my role would be," he said of playing Chewbacca.

He then got the call to come back to London one final time, to meet J.J. Abrams.

"When we met he didn't tell me anything about Chewbacca. He just asked me 'What do you think Chewbacca is like?'" Suotamo told Business Insider. "I said that Chewie is this stubborn but very loyal companion, and I stuck to that through filming. I guess J.J. felt the same way because he never said anything — he just told me I got the part."

See photos from "The Force Awakens" premiere:
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Opening night of Star Wars The Force Awakens
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The newest 'Star Wars' actors reveal what their secretive auditions were really like
LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 17: Fans attend the opening night of Walt Disney Pictures and Lucasfilm's 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' at TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX on December 17, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Star Wars fans attend the Star Wars-themed wedding of Australian fans Caroline Ritter, 34, and Andrew Porters, 29, (not in photo), in the forecourt of the TCL Chinese Theatre, December 17, 2015 in Hollywood, California. AFP PHOTO / ROBYN BECK / AFP / ROBYN BECK (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 17: A fan stands in line to watch 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' outside of AMC Loews Kips Bay 15 on December 17, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 17: Fans line up to watch 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' outside of AMC Loews Kips Bay 15 on December 17, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - DECEMBER 17: Fans go through security during the opening night of Walt Disney Pictures and Lucasfilm's 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' at TCL Chinese Theatre on December 17, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - DECEMBER 17: A Darth Vader cosplayer from The Twin Suns Star Wars Club serves popcorn to fans on opening night of Walt Disney Pictures And Lucasfilm's 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' at the Brenden Theatres inside Palms Casino Resort on December 17, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 17: Fans attend the opening night of Walt Disney Pictures and Lucasfilm's 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' at TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX on December 17, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 17: Fans attend the opening night of Walt Disney Pictures and Lucasfilm's 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' at TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX on December 17, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 17: Fans attend the opening night of Walt Disney Pictures and Lucasfilm's 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' at TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX on December 17, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - DECEMBER 17: Imperial stormtrooper cosplayers and a Darth Vader cosplayer from The Twin Suns Star Wars Club pose for a photo with Andy Dacome (3rd L) on opening night of Walt Disney Pictures And Lucasfilm's 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' at the Brenden Theatres inside Palms Casino Resort on December 17, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 17: Fans attend the opening night of Walt Disney Pictures and Lucasfilm's 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' at TCL Chinese Theatre IMAX on December 17, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 17: Fans line up to watch 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' outside of AMC Loews Kips Bay 15 on December 17, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images)
Members of the Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus gather in front of a bar in the French Quarter, Thursday, Dec. 17, 2015, in New Orleans. The group, a Mardi Gras parade club, is celebrating the premiere of the latest "Star Wars" movie with costumes, a brass band and a parade through the French Quarter. (AP Photo/Jonathan Bachman)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - DECEMBER 17: Emilia Lindgren kisses R2-D2 during the opening night of Walt Disney Pictures and Lucasfilm's 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' at TCL Chinese Theatre on December 17, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - DECEMBER 17: Fans seen during the opening night of Walt Disney Pictures and Lucasfilm's 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' at TCL Chinese Theatre on December 17, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - DECEMBER 17: A Storm Trooper at the 'Star Wars' Wedding of fans Andrew Porters and Caroline Ritter hekd in the forecourt of the TCL Chinese IMax Theatre on December 17, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images)
R2-D2, Darth Vader, Chewbacca and a stormtrooper attend the Star Wars-themed wedding of Australian 'Star Wars' fans Caroline Ritter, 34, and Andrew Porters, 29, (not in photo) in the forecourt of the TCL Chinese Theatre, December 17, 2015 in Hollywood, California. AFP PHOTO / ROBYN BECK / AFP / ROBYN BECK (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - DECEMBER 17: 'Star Wars' Fans Andrew Porters and Caroline Ritter get married in the forecourt of the TCL Chinese Theatre Imax on December 17, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images)
Australian Star Wars fans, Andrew Porters and Caroline Ritter get married at the forecourt of Hollywood's TCL Chinese Theater IMAX in Los Angeles Thursday, Dec. 17, 2015. The couple stood alongside a wedding party of âStar Warsâ characters, including Chewbacca, top left, and Darth Vader, top right. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
Star Wars fans attend the Star Wars-themed wedding of Australian fans Caroline Ritter, 34, and Andrew Porters, 29, (not in photo), in the forecourt of the TCL Chinese Theatre, December 17, 2015 in Hollywood, California. AFP PHOTO / ROBYN BECK / AFP / ROBYN BECK (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
Children play with Star Wars character R2-D2 wearing a bow tie for the wedding of Australian Star Wars fans who got married at the forecourt of Hollywood's TCL Chinese Theater IMAX in Los Angeles Thursday, Dec. 17, 2015. The couple stood alongside a wedding party of âStar Warsâ characters, including Darth Vader, Chewbacca and a stormtrooper. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
Australian Star Wars fans, Andrew Porters and Caroline Ritter get married by officiator Obi-Shawn Crosby, top left, at the forecourt of Hollywood's TCL Chinese Theater IMAX in Los Angeles Thursday, Dec. 17, 2015. The couple stood alongside a wedding party of âStar Warsâ characters, including Darth Vader, Chewbacca, a stormtrooper and R2-D2. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
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