You probably know Gwendoline Christie best for her role in Game of Thrones as the warrior Brienne of Tarth. But a whole new group of superfans know her as Captain Phasma in the latest Star Wars trilogy.
She made a brief appearance in Star Wars:The Force Awakens and now her character is back and (badder than ever!) in Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
Here are the highlights from our interview.
Interview with Gwendoline Christie for Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Without giving us any spoilers, can you tell us a little bit about your character in this movie?
In the first film, Phasma is— she’s an enigma, isn’t she? She’s a mystery. She turns up out of nowhere; she has this very confrontational, threatening presence, and that’s sort of compounded or emphasized by what she’s wearing- by this suit of armor which is entirely practical.
And we just have kind of a moment, and I think there’s something about those characters that are masked, that we want to see what’s behind the mask. So we do see more Phasma in the film, and what we see is her resilience, her need to fulfill an overriding sense of revenge, and we see something that we don’t commonly see in female characters which is that we see this violence that
comes from deep within her.
You have such an amazing costume. I would love to know if there’s a physical transformation that takes place when you’re in costume that informs your acting?
I was actually lucky enough to be given couture suit, so the armor was made to fit my dimensions exactly because in the first film, no one was quite sure about this character. I just loved
that we maintained the practicality of what she was wearing. Everything you’re given, as an actor, informs you, and working with all these different people— it’s not just you. It’s all these different people and what they think about the character, and how they’ve executed that creatively, informs you who that person is. So, of course you put this armor on, and you feel rigid and uncompromising.
With someone like Captain Phasma, she has a degree of strength that has to exist muscularly, so she is a strong person, physically. We worked on a lot of that for the film.
Have you had a chance to read the Captain Phasma novel yet?
I’m reading it at the moment. I’ve been very lucky to be really busy, and on my breaks from the Game of Thrones on set, I’m reading the book. And I’m reading it off my phone because otherwise people are gonna ask me constantly about what is happening. But it’s brilliant it just explains so much about the character.
If you had a lightsaber in real life, what color would it be?
I think it would be pink, because of what that represents. You know, it’s kind of a double-edged sword. When something’s pink, you think it’s soft and fluffy, and then, whoop, I just cut your head off.
So what was training like for both of these roles, and much do you have to throw yourself into it for Captain Phasma?
Well, something really wonderful happened which was that I was reunited with the brilliant stunt director/stuntman, C.C. Smiff. C.C. Smiff taught me to fight on Game of Thrones at the start of season two when I was first starting the show. It was C.C. that taught me to sword fight.
So to be reunited on a Star Wars film, and to do something incredibly difficult, you know, exceptionally difficult, and for him to push me to go further, and for him to be there.
He’s the person that helped to give me the courage in the first place, to say you can do more than you ever thought, physically, and to do it with a great deal of humor, and charm, and humanity. And he’s a man always sort of without ego, as well. I mean, what an amazing, an amazing teacher, and to be reunited with him, and he’s also so brilliant about how he puts things together, and how they evolve about pushing you further, and in terms of your strength.
How did you mentally prepare yourself for the character? What did you add of yourself to it, to make it more human, or to make it more relatable?
She’s a person, and you think about why people behave the way that they do. Often people that behave in a malevolent way, it’s because that’s the base of it- they’re fearful, and the fear overtakes them and it can manifest itself in a total loss of empathy. And that the total loss of empathy causes the person to only think about themselves and their own needs, and their own brain space becomes about their receives, how they feel attacked, and how they’re going to fight back.
And it also becomes about the individual rather than the needs of the group. When someone exists like that, it can be those that are liberty, and those that have spirit, and are unafraid to be who they are, that those people want to eradicate; that they want to hurt…. someone like Captain Phasma, it’s in every fiber of her being- the need for ambition; the need for revenge; the need to be ultimate; the need to destroy.
STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI opens in theaters December 15!
Special thanks to Disney, Lucasfilm & ABC for hosting my visit. All opinions are my own. Photo Credit - Louise at MomStart.com