Backstage at an awards ceremony is always a riot of hairspray, champers and nerves. Dipal Acharya meets three screen sirens as they get ready for the big night
GAME GIRL: GWENDOLINE CHRISTIE
Gwendoline Christie in Giles Deacon
In Game of Thrones Gwendoline Christie, 35, plays the broadsword-wielding knight Brienne of Tarth. Honour-bound and armour-clad, she is one of the show’s most brilliant, and complex, characters. At 6ft 3in, the actress is all too aware that finding female parts is a challenge. So when she heard about the role of Brienne, she maximised her chances by losing a stone through a brutal gym regime, and chopped her hair into an androgynous Tilda Swinton bob. ‘George RR Martin has created a world for strong female characters, but I don’t think their strength lies physically or in their ability to gain power. It comes from somewhere deeper.’
Ahead of the BAFTAs, she is being worked on by an army of make-up artists: ‘It’s an absolute treat,’ she says in her upper-crust accent. In GoT she’s more likely to find herself mud-splattered or bear-wrestling.
Hair by Halley Brisker. Make-up by Maxine Leonard. Nails by Claire K using Lancôme
Christie grew up in East Sussex and admits she was always a show-off. When her childhood ambition of becoming a gymnast was thwarted by a back injury, she turned to acting: ‘I loved Shakespeare; seeing Diana Rigg play Mother Courage at the National really stands out.’ Besides, she adds: ‘The theatre has always been a great forum for show-offs.’ Classically trained at the Drama Centre London — alma mater of Colin Firth — Christie landed her first role in an RSC production of Great Expectations straight out of school.
When she returns from Westeros, she likes nothing better than to hang out with her East London fashion set, including Henry Holland, near her home in King’s Cross: ‘I like the Gothic nature of it, pouring with rain, howling winds. You can always be sure that some eccentric creature will be hiding around a corner.’ Reportedly dating the designer Giles Deacon, tonight she is wearing one of his head-turning creations on the red carpet.