With roles in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 2 and Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Gwendoline Christie is well on her way to becoming one of 2015’s biggest box office draws. Even better, she’s going to do it while playing two strong female characters: Commander Lyme, a former District 2 winner of the Hunger Games and Captain Phasma, a member of the First Order, which has become known as the evil new version of the Empire. Christie, known for playing Game of Thrones warrior Brienne of Tarth, has made a career out of playing women that are as strong, if not stronger, than the men she’s been sent to destroy. Even better, Christie has quickly become an unapologetic action hero for women and young girls who truly believe that anything boys can do, girls can do better.
Christie has only eight acting credits to her name since 2007, but she’s quickly become the go-to woman for sci fi/fantasy directors who are looking for someone who doesn’t mind getting a little rough. Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams told Entertainment Weekly that the character of Phasma was specifically created with her in mind. “I just thought it would be really cool if we could find someone to play the part who was female, and I’m a fan of Game of Thrones; Gwendoline is in that show, [The Force Awakens casting director] Nina Gold casts it, she knew Gwendoline, obviously,” Abrams said. “We were very lucky to get to have her in the movie. She’s not in many scenes, but her presence is powerfully felt when she’s there.”
And that’s the power of Christie. There is no role that is too small for the statuesque British actress. She’s a force — no pun intended — to be reckoned with. The former gymnast, who turned to acting after hurting her back, seems like a natural with a sword or taking on big burly men. You believe that she would have no problem laying these guys out — and, up until now, all of her foes have been men. A lot of that power comes from her androgynous nature on screen, something that’s pretty revolutionary for female action heroes and that we haven’t seen much of since Brigitte Nielsen or Grace Jones. Christie told V Magazine that when you are nearly six 6 feet tall when you’re 14 years old, you need to decide what you’re going to do with that power.
Gwendoline Christie has various ways of putting off questions about Captain Phasma, the villainous Stormtrooper leader she plays in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” and, sitting down for a chat during a recent visit to L.A. from her native England, she gave them all a workout.
There was the apologetic approach. (“I’m so sorry — this is where I’m going to frustrate you.”) There was mock indignation. (“You can’t ask me any of these questions, and I’m almost appalled that you have!”) There was the vague threat of what could happen if she were to spill any “Star Wars” secrets. (“Something bad would happen to me — and you.”)
Christie, 37, is accustomed to withholding plot details, having starred for the last three years as the fan-favorite warrior Brienne of Tarth on HBO’s hit fantasy series “Game of Thrones.” But with roles in not one but two of the most highly anticipated films of the holiday season — she’s in the final installment in the “Hunger Games” franchise, opening Nov. 20, as well as “The Force Awakens,” in theaters Dec. 18 — she finds herself sitting on a pile of spoilers like never before.
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By Laura Prudom
“Game of Thrones” fans are already familiar with Gwendoline Christie in her guise as the honorable Brienne of Tarth, but audiences are about to see a very different side of the statuesque thesp thanks to roles in winter’s two biggest films — the final installment of the “Hunger Games” franchise, “Mockingjay – Part 2,” and Episode VII of cinema’s most beloved sci-fi franchise, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”
For Christie, a classically trained method actor who graduated from Drama Centre London, the most compelling aspect of all three projects is their commitment to diversity, especially in regards to providing roles for women that eschew the traditional, often stereotypical narratives that many female characters are forced to follow in film.
“It’s great to be involved in three big franchises, but [they’re] big three big franchises that are looking to expand our consciousness about each other as human beings, and that’s very exciting,” Christie noted during a recent interview with Variety. “They are three enormous things — however, the quality of the writing and the concepts are very, very well developed and very relevant, so everyone seems engaged in the excitement of what these things are doing. All three projects are incredibly progressive, so it feels as though everyone’s caught up with the idea of that, and everyone’s dedicated to giving their absolute best and honoring the set of ideas and setting them forth into the world.”
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