Gwendoline Christie’s presence is powerful both in person as well as on screen as Captain Phasma in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. There is a confidence she exudes that is inspiring. Actually, there was a moment during the interview that she said something so profound that I wanted to stand up and give her a slow clap. She was amazing and I am so glad I got the chance to sit down and chat with her about her role in Star Wars: The Last Jedi while gaining some insight into her role in Game of Thrones as well. *So if you are a Game of Thrones fan, you’ll get a kick out of this interview.
Here’s what Gwendoline Christie had to say…
About her character, Captain Phasma
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…we want to see what’s behind the mask…what I loved about it is that in the world that we live in, we are met with deluge of information all of the time, and the idea of having that moment- the sort of suspension of disbelief where you have the space and are forced to wonder who is this, and who are they, I was very attracted by that.
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- and it manifests itself in different ways, this violence that comes from deep within her.
And, and that’s something I find interesting about this character is that women are not conventionally supposed to have a violence that comes from deep within.
The color of her light saber, if she had one in real life
I think it would be pink, [LAUGHS], because of what that represents, you know?…it’s a pink ribbon that represents wanting to stand with the further research into breast cancer into, you know, the idea of pink and the pink pound with the, you know, the gay community which is a community I’ve always had a strong relationship with, and also because 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.
Training for her role in Star Wars: The Last Jedi and her character in Game of Thrones
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 fight- to swordfight, was with me in all of those scenes when there was fighting, and sometimes when there wasn’t, because I was concerned about executing the physicality of that character.
Because it was always important to me that Brienne of Tarth is a woman. It isn’t- she isn’t a woman acting like a man; she is a woman, but she has a different strength, and a different configuration to Gwendolyn. And I wanted that to be as resolved as possible. I remember thinking about even when I heard the possibility of auditioning for that role, and I read it, and I was so delighted that at last- I remember thinking surely this can’t be real.
Surely the world, and I thought, well, you know what? It doesn’t matter if this Game of Thrones program which had just shown the first three episodes in the UK, it doesn’t matter if it’s not successful because there’s a part that is outside of what we’re used to seeing in society in our entertainment. That’s what delighted me, and so I was very dedicated with C.C., and C.C. was the person that set me on the path to, you know, training as a part of my life, sometimes other times.
And sometimes less, [LAUGHS]. When I have a break. I love it to be less, but he’s the person that made me enjoy it; that gave me the spirit, you know, to say, I’m gonna commit to this fully, 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.
You know, 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.
But also recognizing, which I think is the most important thing- how to keep you safe, and when to keep you safe because I’m lucky enough to have never broken or bone, and I would like to keep it that way. [LAUGHTER]
Mentally preparing for her role
Well, she’s a person. 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 they’re 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. And you know, 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. So I was- I’ve been in, I’ve been lucky enough to be in Game of Thrones for a long time- a longish, well, for me, it’s a long time; with my short career, it’s a long time, [LAUGHS], and the, you know, I love the character of Brianna Toth whose got this incredible moral compass.
And it’s great to see an unconventional, you know, an unconventional woman be the hero, even for a moment. Even- and it is fleeting; even for a moment that the opportunity to play the opposite of that where someone like Brianna Toth has the strength, and it comes in, you know, it’s in every essence, every fiber of her being- 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.
A woman as a destructive force when women are seen as mother- whatever that means which is a multidimensional thing, I truly believe. You know, I do- that inverted; the opposite of that fascinated me, and I felt like the opportunities were limitless.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi will be in theaters December 15, 2017
In the meantime, do you want to know more aboutStar Wars? Check out these posts:
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
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*I was invited to attend the Star Wars: The Last Jedi Press Junket. All of my lodging meals and transportation were provided by Disney. However, all opinions are my own.