Gwendoline Christie may have shot to fame as Brienne of Tarth on Game of Thrones, but it’ll no doubt be her upcoming role in Star Wars: The Force Awakens (and to a certain extent The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2) that’ll no doubt fully cement her place in the history of geekdom.
In an interview with Variety, Christie praised how recent blockbuster movies are now providing roles for women that are progressively changing the way female characters are traditionally portrayed in movies. Basically, they are becoming kick-ass heroines instead of the typical subversive role of the damsels in distress.
In The Force Awakens, Christie will play the role of Captain Phasma, the Empire’s mysterious military leader who was first seen wearing that awesome chrome stormtrooper armor (I want one) in the trailer. But unlike the original Star Wars films, in which David Prowse provided the physical performance for Darth Vader while James Earl Jones gave us the iconic villain's distinctive voice, Christie says she was able to embody the character fully during filming, because director J.J. Abrams insisted on it.
“It was very important to J.J. that I was there acting a part,” she noted. “I found it to be a really interesting acting challenge, not just because of what I felt this character was representing — and it was just what I felt, and we talked about it a little bit, but it was never like a manifesto, ‘this is what it must be’ — and it was exciting to me to have that weight of responsibility taken away, of having to be a certain way as a woman, to have to be mindful in a way that isn’t always useful. To have that stripped away was very liberating, and it meant that as an actor I had to focus on other things. I had to focus on what my body was communicating and what exactly my voice is communicating.
“It becomes about the way in which you hold your hand, the way in which you walk, where your weight lies and what you want that to mean, and I wanted to give the character identity. I thought it was interesting to make something about the character identifiably female in a non-superficial way, and I hope that comes across.”
The statuesque actress (she's 6'3'') then added:
“I don’t think many female actors get the opportunity to play a part where they’re not having to think about the way their face looks, but I found exactly the same thing with Brienne of Tarth, and that was very liberating,” she said. “It was great as an actor to work on your skills — that it isn’t about holding your head so you look beautiful. It’s about what you’re transmitting, and to be in service of an idea greater than yourself, whether it’s the character’s overriding objective or, beyond that, hopefully something more sociopolitical. We have seen an image of [Phasma] and again, it’s an unconventional kind of woman exhibiting a kind of strength, but in a very different way to my other two characters.”
What do you think? Do you agree with Gwendoline Christie?