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Daisy Ridley Joins Baobab Studios’ ‘Baba Yaga’

‘Star Wars’ sequel trilogy star is cast in lead role of Magda in newest immersive experience from the Emmy Award-winning studio behind ‘Bonfire’ and ‘Crow: The Legend.’

Daisy Ridley, who rose to worldwide fame as Rey Skywalker in the Star Wars sequel trilogy, has been cast in the lead role of Magda in Baobab Studios’ newest immersive experience, Baba Yaga. First announced earlier today within the studio’s special Work in Progress presentation at the Annecy International Animation Festival’s 2020 Online edition, the multiple Emmy Award-winning studio behind Bonfire and Crow: The Legend, also revealed a first look at Ridley’s character, the story and style behind Baba Yaga, as well as insights into their unique approach to interactive filmmaking.

Directed by Baobab Studios co-founder Eric Darnell and co-directed by Mathias Chelebourg, Baba Yaga is a contemporary portrayal of the Eastern European legend inspired by illustrative 2D pop-up animation, hand-drawn and stop-motion styles, creating a modern visual language for VR inspired by classic animation. Leveraging the studio’s award-winning animation pioneers and interactive gaming veterans, Baba Yaga blends theater, cinema, interactivity, AI, and animation into a unique experience that explores themes of empowerment and environmentalism.

In Baba Yaga, due to launch later this year, viewers will be invited as a main character into a haunting fairytale world completely reimagined, and their choices will determine the ending of this story of love, fortitude and magic. Sometimes a force for evil, sometimes a force for good, the enigmatic witch Baba Yaga uses her powers to stop the villagers whose settlement encroaches upon her enchanted forest. When the viewer’s mother, the village chief, falls deathly ill, it is up to them and their sister Magda to do the unthinkable—enter the forest, uncover its hidden mysteries and get the cure from Baba Yaga. Ultimately, every decision the viewer makes matters…even whether humanity and nature can live in balance.

“Baobab is at the very forefront of VR and interactive animation, so it’s been exciting to work with Eric and the team to bring such a beautiful story to life,” said Ridley. “I love playing Magda, because she is brave, vulnerable and fiercely protective of her family all at the same time. The idea that the viewer will be able to genuinely interact with my character in this magical world and help steer the course of the narrative is so amazing.”

“We are so fortunate to have Daisy breathe life into the role of Magda, as her talent and energy for the project fuels us all,” adds Darnell. “She has such a way of always finding the right tone and delivering the most meaningful performance for any scene. Her work is such a huge inspiration to our animators.”

Maureen Fan, CEO and Co-founder of Baobab Studios, commented, “We're so honored to work with a talent like Daisy Ridley who is such a strong role model to women of all ages. She IS Magda - fierce, brave, and independent.” 

The Baobab Studios team will also participate in a Live Q&A hosted by the Annecy festival on June 23rd at 9am PST/6pm France time, which will be open to the public. Featured panelists will include several key creatives from the Baba Yaga production, including Darnell, Chelebourg, development producer Shannon Ryan and animation supervisor, Ken Fountain. 

Dan Sarto's picture

Dan Sarto is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network.