On fighting with bears, bathing with Jaime and being the best swordswoman in Westeros
By Alan Sepinwall Wednesday, Apr 2, 2014
Gwendoline Christie as Brienne of Tarth in “Game of Thrones.”
There are certain characters on “Game of Thrones” who could probably have been played equally well by a few dozen actors across the UK and Europe. Then there are the ones who, because of certain traits given to them by author George R.R. Martin, needed a very specific combination of talent and physical appearance. Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister is obviously one of those, and Gwendoline Christie as Brienne of Tarth is another. At an imposing 6’4”(*) with icy blonde hair and large blue eyes, Christie makes an impression, and is absolutely convincing as the stoic warrior who keeps beating up all the men who underestimate her.
(*) Tall actresses often wear flats to downplay their height, but when I interviewed Christie, she was wearing heels, making her even taller, and one of the few actors of either gender I’ve ever had to look up at.
Christie and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau had some of the best material of “GoT” season 3, as Brienne and Jaime Lannister endured hardships, torture, attempted rape and a very nasty scrape with a giant bear on their way to Kings Landing. A few weeks ago, I spoke with Christie about the challenges and joys of playing Brienne.
I have to ask, first of all, about working with the bear. How did you get along with Bart?
Gwendoline Christie: Bart the bear was so professional. What’s interesting is that you see this huge really cuddly looking bear and you almost forget that it’s a live animal that could kill you. It could kill you in a moment. But he was so professional. He was there in his trailer. He had been there for a week beforehand so he could be adjusted to the temperature and where he was and we shot it in L.A., ’cause that’s one of the places where we could get close enough to the bear. And he had to have country and western music playing at all times to keep him calm. And when he stepped out of his trailer everyone had to give him a round of applause. Whenever he did anything right or wrong you had to give him a round of applause and say, “Good boy!” When he got a little bit testy, or if he did something particularly well they’d give him spray cream in a frying pan. I asked David and Dan, “When can I start getting that kind of treatment?”
And how did they respond?
Gwendoline Christie: Yeah, that’s what happens all the time on set now from there on in. Country and western music, rounds of applause, cream in a frying pan. But he was absolutely extraordinary. They’d worked for months to work out exactly what the routine should be and what was possible and they’d worked for months on these movements.You’re not easy to double, I imagine, so was that you down there with the bear?