NEWSWEEK – “I’m Gwen,” she says, as if she could be anyone else. Gwendoline Christie is tall. This won’t come as a surprise to fans of Game of Thrones, the show that features the 38-year-old actor as the dutiful and fearless warrior Brienne of Tarth. And yet, when meeting Christie on a Friday morning in the rooftop bar of a London music venue, the full 6 foot 3 inches of her can still take you aback, even without her character’s coat of armor.
For the uninitiated, Game of Thrones is based on George R.R. Martin’s wildly popular fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire, of which there are five novels, with two more planned. The books are set in a vaguely medieval world on fictional continents where the leaders of seven kingdoms battle the undead, dragons and one another for the exceedingly uncomfortable-looking Iron Throne. Since the show’s premiere in 2011, it has won more Emmy Awards than any other scripted series in history (38 to date), kept Reddit and social media ticking with memes and theories, and inspired all manner of online debate—over excessive violence (heads chopped off, girls burned alive, men castrated) and gratuitous sex (the rape of one character in particular).
But the 23 million viewers (on average) who watch each episode come for the unusually large number of indelible characters—like Lena Headey’s power-mad Queen Cersei; the brooding, putative hero, Jon Snow (Kit Harington); and Brienne.