It”s good to be Gwendoline Christie. The actress is an integral part of THREE major franchises that are global phenomenon. On HBO she plays the honor-bound Brienne of Tarth. In “The Hunger Games Mockingjay Part 2” she plays former Hunger Games winner and rebellion instigator Commander Lyme. And of course, she is shiny and chrome as Captain Phasma in the upcoming “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”
Christie has made a career out of spitting in the eye of gender expectations and garnered innumerable fans for her effort. She recently spoke to Variety about what it”s like to play a character like Phasma. Unlike the Star Wars of yore where one actor played Darth Vader and another voiced him, Christie was in costume the entire time. She found the experience liberating:
“It was very important to J.J. that I was there acting a part. 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.”
Christie went on to explain that for the most part, being an actress means always worrying about the light and the angle of your face. Encased in Captain Phasma”s armor removed the ever-nagging concern to look beautiful at every given moment. It”s an experience not entirely unfamiliar to Christie. When embodying Brienne of Tarth on “Game of Thrones,” the actress is liberated from worrying how her face looked when fighting or yelling or existing. But Captain Phasma was a different beast all together.
“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.”
No matter what role she takes on, Christie pushes the boundaries of what society thinks an actress is capable of and what kind of characters women can embody on both the big screen and small. Now we just need to know if Phasma”s armor is lightsaber-proof.
You can read Gwendoline Christie”s entire interview – including her thoughts on “female armor” and Peeta as a non-traditional male hero – over at Variety.