Category: Interviews

An Interview With The Women of Star Wars: Daisy Ridley and Gwendoline Christie Talk!

HOTPRESSThe women of Star Wars: The Force Awakens tell Roe McDermott why J.J. Abrams’ sci-fi instalment is a cultural game-changer in its portrayal of strong, complex women

 

You may have heard of this little film the came to cinemas this Christmas. Just a quiet, subdued indie drama… Oh, who are we kidding. JJ Abrams’ Star Wars: The Force Awakens is an epic space opera that is set to not only add to the iconic Star Wars franchise, but reignite it for a new generation. Set 30 years after the events of Return of the Jedi, the Rebel Alliance and the Empire have become Resistance and the First Order, respectively. The film sees Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher reprise their roles as Han Solo, Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia – but the cast is also brimming with the best and brightest of Hollywood’s new stars. Featuring Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o, Girls star Adam Driver, Inside Llewyn Davis’ Oscar Isaac and our own Domhnall Gleeson, Star Wars: The Force Awakens is dragging the franchise into the 21st century at light speed.

 

With this update comes new societal rules, and in a meta exploration of gender equality, Star Wars: The Force Awakens not only addresses the progress made in the Star Wars universe, but in the film industry. The upcoming instalment is thus filled with interesting, multi-faceted female characters – and it’s about time.

 

Princess Leia Organa, Star Wars’ leading lady, is one of sci-fi’s most adored heroines; a smart, fearless and capable leader whose strength is fuelled by her unwavering sense of moral and political conviction and personal empowerment.

 

A cinematic favourite turned feminist hero, Leia’s defiant warrior spirit and unapologetic femininity made her a cultural icon. And yes, the image of a kidnapped Leia in a gold metal bikini may have made an entire generation of young men sweaty and lightheaded with feverish desire, but this was not a woman who was just a sexualised slave – here was someone who used the chains that enslaved her as instruments of power, using them to destroy her captor.

 

However, Leia sadly proves to be an anomaly in the original Star Wars franchise, where women are seldom seen and almost never heard. In the beloved trinity of A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi, the only other female characters allowed to speak are Aunt Beru, Mon Mothma, and an unnamed Rebel functionary at the Hoth base. And the combined running time of these lines uttered by women? An almost unbelievably pitiful 63 seconds. To clarify, the total series runtime is 23,160 seconds. It seems that even in a galaxy far, far away, sexism still reigns supreme.

 

Until now, that is. In J.J. Abrams’ upcoming Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the director has infused the film with his trademark appreciation for strong female characters. Though now known for lens-flare fuelled action movies, Abrams got his start with the female-led teen drama Felicity, and thanks to characters like Lost’s Kate Austen, Alias’ Sydney Bristow and Fringe’s Olivia Dunham, Abrams’ career has been marked by his commitment to bringing fully-rounded and aspirational female characters to the screen. (We’re chalking the disappointing and objectifying portrayal of Alice Eve’s character in Star Trek Into Darkness as an uncharacteristic slip on an otherwise impressive resume).

 

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Gwendoline Christie nearly became a nun

GQ MagazineFirst, a warrior of Westeros. Now, the badass of the Republic. Gwendoline Christie is a force to be reckoned with

 

Take a job in a show that inspires obsession – as Gwendoline Christie did, four years ago, when she joined the cast of HBO’s Game Of Thrones playing the she-knight Brienne – and you consent to the scrutiny of superfans. Countless selfies and signatures required at conventions, hours of face time with your audience – all without ever allowing yourself to utter a word of a spoiler. Exhausting! And here’s Christie, folding herself into another fan-pawed franchise as a chief Stormtrooper in the new Star Wars.

 

Sitting at the Corinthia Hotel in London’s Whitehall, Christie doesn’t seem to have considered the implications of consolidating an established career in Westeros with a new one in the Republic. “I’m an idiot,” she decides. “An idiot.” The 37-year-old, dressed today in collarless white shirt and black trousers, extends her body on the chaise. When she gets a new acting job, she explains, “rather naively I don’t always think about the other aspects. I just think, ‘Ooh! Star Wars, that would be exciting…’ I never once actually thought, ‘This is for life.'”

 

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Star Wars actresses a force to be reckoned with

ASIA ONE – One is a Best Supporting Actress Oscar winner for 12 Years A Slave and the other is a fan favourite from the most downloaded TV show on the planet, Game Of Thrones.

 

But for Lupita Nyong’o and Gwendoline Christie, Star Wars: The Force Awakens has pride of place on their resumes.

 

Both actresses grew up watching Star Wars on television and idolised Princess Leia.

 

And during their joint interview at the Los Angeles Convention Center, they were bubbling over with enthusiasm even as they struggled to sidestep questions because of the non-disclosure agreement all cast members are bound to.

 

Kenyan-Mexican Nyong’o, 32, is fully CGI as Maz Kanata, a tiny wizened pirate with a colourful past and a mentor of sorts to Han Solo.

 

And you never see Briton Christie, who’s 37 and standing at an imposing 1.91m, without her full body armour as Captain Phasma, member of The First Order, leader of the Stormtroopers and the first female villain in the Star Wars movies.

 

If you didn’t get enough of them in The Force Awakens, you’ll be glad to know they are slated to play larger roles in the sequels.

 

Was there an unforgettable moment for you while filming?

 

Christie: I put the costume on and I walked onto the set, and what was around me was wonderfully, magically childlike…Being in a Star Wars world was gloriously euphoric for me.

 

Nyong’o: I was in a bit of a daze for the first days. I was doing (motion capture) so that was a whole other world of trying to figure out what on earth was going on. But a few days in, I was on set and I had just a moment when I looked around and it was the hugest set I’ve ever been on and it’s like my mind exploded for a moment.

 

How was the audition process like?

 

Nyong’o: Shortly after the Oscars, I was in Morocco doing a photo shoot. I got an e-mail from my agent saying (director) J.J. Abrams wants to talk to me. I had a conversation with him and he told me a little bit about Maz Kanata. He sent a script to Morocco for me to read. I had about two hours to quickly go through it and decide. I called him back and said I’m interested.

 

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Captain Phasma: So cool she rules in ‘Star Wars’

 

USA TODAY – The Dark Side is a nice place to visit for Gwendoline Christie.

 

The 6-foot-3 British actress gained fans and fame as the warrior Brienne of Tarth on HBO’s Game of Thrones. She has parlayed that into supporting roles as rebel leader Commander Lyme in this year’s The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 2 and as the armored Captain Phasma, one of the coolest-looking antagonists in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and the franchise’s first major female villain.

 

“Every day is really fantastic. I feel like all my Christmases have come at once,” says Christie, 37.

 

“I’m a bit spoiled, really, because the last three projects I’ve been really enthusiastic about. I’ve been very lucky for a couple of years now.”

 

Christie talks with USA TODAY about her role in the hit new Star Wars film — with a box office of $238 million and counting since Thursday night — and her favorites from the original movies.

 

Q: Is Phasma a woman you’d hang out with?

 

A: (Laughs) To the best of my knowledge, I’ve never hung out with someone who’s consciously been a member of the Dark Side. There may be some people who are part of the Dark Side unconsciously I’ve hung out with. And I haven’t hung out with anyone wearing armor in front of me.

 

Q: Is she an ambitious sort — does she want to be General Phasma?

 

A: I put the costume on and I realized that this armor is quite something. It’s very high-functioning, it’s very imposing and it’s not malleable at all. I thought, well, anybody who wears that every day, it must inform their character. Those were some things that I took on board as characteristics.

 

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Star Wars first female baddie Gwendoline Christie calls starring role “revolutionary”

The actress credited the film makers for giving her such a unique opportunity to play a role that was initially intended for a male actor

 

MIRROR – Gwendoline Christie has just made her debut as Star Wars ‘ first ever female baddie and called the role “revolutionary”.

 

Admitting she had been captivated by the saga since she was a young child she has thanked the makers of the franchise for giving her such a great opportunity to create such a unique character.

 

Crediting Carrie Fisher as her inspiration for becoming an actress she said of her character: “It’s just fantastic. What I love about playing Captain Phasma, is she is the first female storm trooper.”

 

Speaking to Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby on This Morning she added: “As a character we are so used to, in the mainstream media, seeing women portrayed in a way which is conventionally, often sexualised.

 

“With this character she’s covered in armour, consequently we form a relationship with the character due to her actions and her character primarily rather than the way she looks like made flesh and to me that feels very progressive.”

 

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Gwendoline Christie says Gleeson is “hilarious”

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RTÉ TEN – Star Wars actress Gwendoline Christie, who plays stormtrooper commander Captain Phasma in The Force Awakens, has lavished praise on her co-star Domhnall Gleeson saying he is “absolutely hilarious” and “a truly brilliant actor”.

 

Christie revealed that the 32-year-old Irish actor, who play nostril-flaring baddie General Hux in the movie, had her in stitches on set and was surprised at how funny he is.

 

 

Speaking to RTÉ TEN, the Game of Thrones star, who stands at an imposing 6′ 3″, said, “Domhnall Gleeson is absolutely hilarious and a truly brilliant actor and exceptionally talented. He’s just so funny and I didn’t expect to laugh so much on set as I did with him. He’s a very captivating personality and very magnetic. You just want to be around him because he always has an interesting take on things.”

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Christie wears a chrome stormtrooper outfit in the movie and said she loved the practically of Michael Kaplan’s costume, “I really loved the concept. I obviously really wanted to be in Star Wars and thought I would be excited about any part. When I realised that I would be playing what I consider to be a progressive female character then I was truly excited.

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The Mainstream’s Most Beloved Misfit

With roles in three of 2015’s biggest projects — Game of Thrones, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 2, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens — the actor has the kind of platform she always dreamed of. Now, Christie tells BuzzFeed News how she was repeatedly told it would never happen.

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BUZZFEED – Gwendoline Christie really, really, really loves Star Wars.

 

The proof of her undying adoration — besides the repeated gushing (“It’s amaaaaazing!” “I just love it so much.” “Isn’t it the best?”) — came when she encountered a truly rare sight: R2D2, C3PO, and BB-8 all huddled together in a hallway during the recent Star Wars: The Force Awakens press day Los Angeles.

 

“Oh my god, is this happening?!?” she squealed as the trio, in unison, slowly made their way toward her. “I’m really freaking out right now.”
As Christie greeted the droids with a reverence normally reserved for heads of state — “Hi, how are you? It’s lovely to see you!” — she continued to sporadically scream the kind of unadulterated joy anyone who has encountered a beloved Hollywood icon knows all too well. And as Christie posed for a photo with all three, she repeated, under her breath, “No. I can’t believe this. This isn’t real.”

 

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But it was.

 

That impromptu robot convergence was simply the latest in a long string of “pinch me” moments the 37-year-old actor has experienced since winning the role of fierce warrior Brienne of Tarth on HBO’s insanely popular Game of Thrones in 2012. Since then, she appeared in Liongate’s acclaimed The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 2 as Commander Lyme and now finds herself in the hotly anticipated Star Wars sequel, The Force Awakens, playing the evil Captain Phasma.

 

But of all of Christie’s recent experiences that she’s struggled to wrap her head around, co-starring in The Force Awakens remains the most inconceivable. “I still can’t believe I’m here talking to you about being in the new Star Wars movie,” she told BuzzFeed News, every other word punctuated with a verbal exclamation point. “I remember seeing [A New Hope] when I was about 6 years old and my family presented it to me as, ‘This is Star Wars.’ There was so much excitement and they kept saying, ‘You’re going to love this.’ And I did. I loved it from the opening titles.”

 

Christie spoke lovingly about the film’s visual flair, enthralling action, and beautifully hopeful message, but what resonated most deeply with her young self was that, for the first time, she felt like the misfits were the heroes.

 

“I always felt like a bit of an outsider and here was this group of people that were all very unique in their own way, on an exciting journey together, and are getting along,” the 6-foot-3-inch actor said. “It was that combination of unique characters and misfits coming together in the pursuit of good and it being funny.”

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Gwendoline Christie Is The Funniest Stormtrooper You’ll Ever Meet

imageREFINERY29 – Gwendoline Christie wants to know all about my first time.

 

“When did you first see Star Wars?” she asks, leaning over the table where we’re seated, her bright blue eyes wide. I tell her it was approximately one zillion years ago, when I was about 3, and the campus hangout of the college town I grew up in had snagged a bootleg copy.

 

“And what did you think of it?” she asks.

 

I explain that my little mind was blown, particularly by Princess Leia and Chewbacca. Then, conscious of the seconds ticking by in our allotted time to discuss all things Star Wars: The Force Awakens, I suggest that we shouldn’t be wasting time on me when there’s so much I want to ask her.

 

“But I’m genuinely interested!” Christie says with such conviction that I believe her. “I really am. People have such a big investment, such a big emotional investment in the film, and I want to see if there’s a common element.”

 

Christie, 37, has vivid memories of her own introduction to a galaxy far, far away, via Episode IV — A New Hope. “I first saw the film when I was 6. It was Christmas, and I think it’s the first Christmas I remember. I completely fell in love with it. What’s fascinating, I think, is that I still love it as much as I did then. It still moves me, it still fills me with awe and excitement, and it still really makes me laugh.”

 

And what a laugh it is. The British actress — who plays the nefarious Captain Phasma in the new Star Wars and, of course, heroic Brienne of Tarth on Game of Thrones — has an absolutely delightful one that erupts frequently during our conversation. Here’s how it went.

 

It’s an exciting time.

“I can’t believe any of this is happening.”

 

You’ve been in the swirl of a mega franchise for a few years now with Game of Thrones. Is this just a much bigger deal?

“I can’t believe it every time I have a job! [Laughs joyously] And long may that feeling continue!”

 

Speaking of these two worlds you work in, you’re used to secrecy, so I don’t stand a chance here of getting anything out of you, do I?

“Why would you want to? Why would you want to do that? You wouldn’t want to spoil it for people!”

 

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Gwendoline Christie weighs in on Captain Phasma Vs Boba Fett

 

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY – Thirty-five years ago, the world was introduced to a masked villain who said few words but won the hearts and minds of fans by just being so darn cool. He was Boba Fett, and while the character doesn’t appear in The Force Awakens, the new Star Wars film does have its own mysterious evildoer in armor: Gwendoline Christie’s Captain Phasma.

 

Little is known about Captain Phasma’s motivations thus far, but Christie is stoked at the idea of her villain, the Star Wars franchise’s first female antagonist, becoming a fan fave.

 

“I think it would be great if Captain Phasma becomes really popular, because of what she represents,” Christie told EW at the world premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens on Monday night. “What she represents to me is very modern in our mainstream media. We have a woman people seem to love and we relate to her character and actions rather than the way she’s been made flesh, due to the armor she wears – which is very practical. That to me seems like a step forward. I’m so grateful I’ve had the opportunity to play this part. People’s enthusiasm for the part of Captain Phasma signals that people want to see something different.”

 

And as for Boba Fett, when asked whether her character would defeat the infamous bounty hunter in a fight, Christie had a better solution.

 

“Imagine what they could do together,” she joked.

 

Filming ‘Star Wars The Force Awakens’ AND Game of Thrones at the Same Time

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