The towering British actress discusses her strenuous mountaintop battle sequence, her love of Oathkeeper, and embracing ‘my androgyny.’
The High Valyrian saying translates to “All men must die,” which served as the tagline for the fourth season of HBO’s sweeping fantasy epic Game of Thrones. “All Men Must Die” was also the title to the series’ second season finale—one that saw Lady Catelyn Stark’s sworn protector, Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie), happen upon the desecrated corpses of three women lynched by House Stark henchmen while transporting the Kingslayer, Jaime Lannister, to King’s Landing to swap for Sansa and Arya Stark. When the warrior runs into the Stark soldiers, she disposes of them with extreme prejudice, silencing the chatty Jaime.
One of the standout sequences of the fourth season finale, entitled “The Children,” sees Brienne clash with The Hound, played by Rory McCann. Sporting Jaime’s armor and Valyrian steel, “Oathkeeper,” the towering blonde had been on the road most of this season searching for the two Stark girls, when she happens upon The Hound and Arya. Brienne demands the deformed, less savage Clegane brother fork her over, but he refuses, hell-bent on receiving his bounty. And what transpires is one of the most gripping showdowns all season—a duel to the death atop a mountain that sees “I’m no lady” Brienne emerge victorious. It’s a scene that, like many this season, deviated considerably from George R.R. Martin’s books.
In addition to Game of Thrones, Christie was recently cast in an unspecified role in J.J. Abrams’s highly anticipated Star Wars: Episode VII, as well as the part of Commander Lyme in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2—arguably the two biggest films of 2015.
The British actress spoke to The Daily Beast about the spellbinding Thrones finale, femininity, how online fan forums inspired her to play Brienne, and much more.
Are you in London… in a galaxy far, far away?[Laughs] I am indeed in London and I believe I’m allowed to say, now, that I’m heavily ensconced in that. I can’t say anything about Star Wars whatsoever!
Let’s talk about your massive Game of Thrones finale. What was it like shooting this epic showdown with Rory McCann’s The Hound?
It’s so entertaining to be involved with so many projects that are so enshrouded in secrecy. It was absolutely mammoth—a mammoth task—and one that took an awful lot of preparation. Rory and I trained for two months for it, and we’ve seen Brienne sword fighting before like on the bridge with Jaime Lannister, which took two weeks of training, but this was something else entirely. The brilliant C.C. Smiff [GoT swordmaster], who taught me to sword fight, also taught me to fight. I’d done boxing before in preparation for playing Brienne at the Trinity Boxing Club in L.A., but this was something that was entirely out of my comfort zone. I went through several periods wondering if I’d be able to do this incredible fight justice since it wasn’t an organized form of fighting—it was a scrappy, rough-and-tumble form of fighting. But Brienne believes she’s serving a moral cause; that she’s still working to serve her oath to Catelyn Stark.
“I felt it would be a useful challenge to let go of those things and embrace something else—to embrace my androgyny.”