GQ Magazine – First, 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.'”
Her character in the new instalment, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, is called Captain Phasma, described by Christie as “Star Wars’ first female villain”. She can’t say much else. Christie, on spoiler-lockdown, cannot discuss what her character looks like under her helmet, what the plot might hold, nor even whether Captain Phasma has a first name. “Captain?” Christie suggests, before grinning and rolling on to her stomach, cackling.
Perhaps she hasn’t always expected to enjoy her career quite so much. At drama school, tutors told her she wouldn’t get much work. “Because I was too tall.” (She is 6ft 3ins.) For a decade she was in the theatre, regionals mostly, once playing a Lucifer in Doctor Faustus who appeared “out of the ceiling, wearing lashings of body make-up and a bald cap, on fire”. She told her agent she wanted to be in an HBO series. His reply: “Doesn’t everyone, love?” And if Christie hadn’t become an actress, what option was next on her list? Becoming a nun, apparently.
Christie joined Game Of Thrones in its second series, becoming a viewer favourite after episode-stealing swordfights against giants, bears and entire militias. Because Brienne generally appears under layers of chain mail, the part ended up being good practice for Star Wars, in which she was also chunkily armoured. “When you’re wearing a costume that obscures the natural lines of your body, everything has to be considered physically. Every gesture means as much as what happens above the neck.”
Can Christie show us some of Captain Phasma’s gestures? No. Can she show us, then, how Captain Phasma might lie on the chaise?
“That,” Christie says with a smile, “would also count as a spoiler.”