She talks to Paul Flynn about breaking moulds, Star Wars and why she’s happy to be an outsider…
EVENING STANDARD – When she was 15 years old, Gwendoline Christie would frequently skip school to head up to London.
She’d get the train from Worthing, West Sussex — where she lived with her mother, a housewife, and dad, a salesman — and make her way to the stalls in Kensington Market, obsessing over the beguiling selections of nightlife pieces on display at Hyper Hyper. She’d sit and sketch mannequins at the V&A. Hours would be whiled away browsing the rails at Vivienne Westwood. Back home, she’d test herself by covering the credits of fashion magazines to see if she had learned who designed what and why. Discovering Alexander McQueen, she says, was ‘earth-shattering, it just felt like so many of the things I loved coming together and exploding’.
To Christie, from a young age, fashion represented part of a wider life plan. ‘It was a combination of wanting to escape the unpleasant narrative that was being applied to me at school, where I was bullied terribly,’ she says, ‘and loving the transportative nature of the arts. It was about not wanting to live a prescriptive life.’
Christie had heard the word ‘unconventional’ applied to herself so many times, from such a young age, that she adopted a ‘sink or swim’ attitude to fitting in. She developed ideas about beauty every bit as armour-plated as the uniform she’s sported for the past six years as Brienne of Tarth: the character who first turned her into one of the truly iconic faces of the 2010s in Game of Thrones (although at the mention of the word icon, she blurts, ‘Pfffft! Bollocks!’ and mimes ‘Lol’ with two hands shaping the ‘L’s, her mouth forming the ‘O’).