My lovely friend Aniek from Jeniacs has translated an interview from the Dutch ELLE site for me and here it is:
ELLE-NL – The force is strong with Gwendoline Christie, the woman who stepped into the bulletproof shoes of Brienne of Tarth, Captain Phasma and Captain Lyme, this year. Who are those women and who is the actress herself? I discover this while talking to her in London. Who’s that girl?
I meet the 37-year old actress, while she’s been in an excellent mood, in the Corinthia Hotel. Less than 24 hours ago, she walked on the red carpet and won the Emmy award for best Drama series with her Game Of Thrones colleagues. “A extraordinary experience. We knew we had a change of winning, but the price came as a surprise. Everyone works very hard and it was nice to see all those efforts being rewarded. It was amazing to wear such a beautiful gown”.
The actress didn’t had much opportunity to wear skimpy dresses, the last five years. Christie plays the knight in shining armour Brienne of Tarth in Game Of Thrones: noble, fighting for justice, strong and the nightmare for lots of evil men… plus she’s a woman. For a layperson: In Game Of Thrones, seven highborn families, dragons, a zombie army, wild men and a few expats are fighting for a place on the iron throne. To rule over seven kingdom. Brienne tries to earn respect for the fact that she is a female knight. She tries to find two maidens in distress, who don’t want to be found. The role was a big fit for Gwendoline, since she plays a very large woman. In fact, she is 1.91 meters tall herself. It was the fandom herself who called her the perfect Brienne online. “My friends let me know about the opinion of the fans. That is why I started reading the books. After a few chapters I knew this was the part of my life. I started campaigning via social media and that is why I got the job. I had to make a few sacrifices.” The actress was forced to cut of her long blond locks. “From that time I was forced to maintain a fifty’s hairstyle, I had to gain 10 kilo’s in fat and muscles”. She also had to stop using make up. While her female costars spend their filming days in romantic dresses, wigs and beautiful jewelry, she had to put on a heavy armour. “In some moments I found it hard to see myself without makeup and I found myself unattractive. But on the other hand, it was very interesting. The viewers are almost conditioned to find Brienne unattractive, but I find it very fun to challenge the ideal picture of a beautiful woman.”
A mission that Gwendoline takes seriously. Even when she walks into the interview room, she tries to set confusion. She’s wearing an androgyny suit with her short hair. I find myself amazed that I find her rather elegant and sensual. Even when I am used to seeing her as Brienne. “I am very proud of my height, why would I try to hide it”.
The fact that she giggles like schoolgirl sets the tone for a pleasant conversation. I suddenly find the urge to order a cosmopolitan, but it’s 10 o’clock in the morning and the actress is suffering from an Emmy hangover. Even though she is hungover, her mood is good. She finds everything “extraordinary”. You can’t blame her. In twelve months time, she stood on the set of Game Of Thrones, The Hunger Games and Star Wars. “This year was extraordinary. It took me a lot of energy and effort to coordinate the work days. I am so glad I did it. I am a star when it comes to planning.”
From sword to light saber:
Ever since it was publicly known there would be a new episode in the Star wars saga, Gwendoline wanted to be a part of this adventure. “It was like a dog chasing a bone. I kept nagging my agent until he contacted the producers. It turned out Stars Wars had the same casting director as Game of Thrones, which was a handy contact, who eventually gave me the part.” And it’s not just any part to play: Gwendone plays Captain Phasma, a bad guy/woman in service of the follower of the legendary Darth Vader. That’s a big intergalactic shoe to fill. “I sometimes wonder if I’m good enough”. But the first images of Christie as Phasma don’t disappoint. She traded her armour and sword for a light saber. And although the two parts are very different, Christie sees a link between the two characters. “Phasma was an interesting experience to play, because she is the first female bad guy. Also because her looks don’t matter, same as Brienne. She hides between a mask or armour. She has to use her voice to set her apart from the rest. Not a lot of actresses get the change to act without having to worry what they look like on screen. How their face looks beautiful on screen. Or how sexy they look while moving their body. With me it’s pure acting, nothing more, nothing less.” Although there is a price to pay. “You feel trapped as a tuna in a can for over 12 hours a day, filming scenes in the burning sun.” That’s all she has to say about the Star Wars sequel. “This is the most secret project I have worked on. The set was guarded like it was a military base. I won’t be the one who spills the beans before it premieres. Keeping my mouth shut was the hardest thing I ever had to do”, she giggles nervous.
The actress can now add warrior woman to the resume. “I learnt how to ride a horse, shoot with a bow and arrow, sword fight and a light saber. I can survive in little narrow places and I can break the nose of a grown men with just my elbow. I can also break the nose of a woman, but let’s not get into this sort of sexism”.
Fashion queen and king:
Let’s set the record straight. Gwendoline Christie doesn’t make a difference between men and women. Not when it comes to throwing punches and when it comes to their looks. Her battle against stereotyping not only caught the attention of the big bosses in Hollywood, the fashion world noticed her too. Vivienne Westwood in particular. She invited the tall actress on the catwalk and named her the face of the unisex collection. While having her professional picture taken by photographer Juergen Teller, the star was giving tons of trousers and jackets to wear, who are meant for women and men.
“Women look like queens ór kings, men look like kings of queens. I love this =. It’s very sexual because it’s new. The collection forces people to look at the clothing in a different way.” The Westwood camp states that Gwendoline is the perfect woman for the job, as she is irresistible attractive. That doesn’t mean you put Gwendoline in a box. Westwood is not te only ally in fashion land. Christie loves to experiment with other befriended designers in Tinsel town. Mini skirts or a sky deep décolleté. Nothing is off limit for Christie.
She even posed naked in her student days for a daring photo session “Bunny” but the Australian photographer Polly Borland. The shoot was meant as an anwer to the plastic fantastic Playboy Bunnies. While she looks back at the shoot, she can’t help but express some mixed feelings, even though she has a lot of respect for her thirty-year self. “I always told myself not to do naked shoots, because I don’t have a killer body. A part of me told me to just do it, because I wanted to show people we can look a beauty in a different way.” Anyone who doesn’t agree with that, can expect an elbow in the face.. or a light saber.
Because Gwendoline can’t stand not getting into a fight, she is also cast side by side with Jennifer Lawrence, to fight against the tyranny of the capitol in the fictive Hunger Games movie franchise. Christie plays Captain Lyme, who is also a big fighter in yet again, a fictive world. Why does she keep choosing movies with fictive worlds and characters?
“I am a bit of a geek, but I live in a parallel dimension sometimes. There is a certain atmosphere around these movies, which I like. I also notice this while walking around Comic Con, the yearly conference for geeks, a place I really enjoy since five years.”
“Call it daydreaming or some misplaced fantasies, but for me, it’s all about hope. The fans dream of a better and tougher world, where ideals don’t count and ugly apes have just as much a change of happiness as princesses. That is a fun way to look at it, right?”
Movies, a television show and a fashion campaign. The schedule of Christie is full. Is there someone Gwendoline can come home to? According to rumors, it’s British fashion designer Giles Deacon. While she stands on set, waving with swords, he spends his day drawing dresses. But at night they looks a happy couple. Which started in 2013. They both keep their mouths shut when it comes to their personal life. When I do ask about this mysterious relationship, she sighs and says “he is a fantastic designer and sends me free stuff now and then. Which is pretty amazing because I need a lot of fabric”.