Long before Game of Thrones established itself as the fantastical powerhouse in television, Brienne of House Tarth was always one of George R.R. Martin’s more intriguing characters. Mockingly referred to as Brienne the Beauty, the former maid of the Sapphire Isle is decidedly unfeminine, subverting character expectations across her appearances in A Song of Ice and Fire.
In many ways, actress Gwendoline Christie believes that her Captain Phasma in Star Wars: The Force Awakens will inhibit many of the same qualities, albeit in more subtle fashion.
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Serving as one of the leading units of the First Order, Christie’s chrome-tinted Stormtropper is one of the menacing obstacles standing in the way of our heroes. But one of the main tenets that attracted the actress to the role was the way in which it subverts genre stereotypes and expectations.
Portraying a character that is completely clad in armor proved “very liberating” for the Game of Thrones stalwart, tapping into the more nuanced qualities of her performance as she brought Captain Phasma to life in J.J. Abrams’ sequel.
“I don’t think many female actors get the opportunity to play a part where they’re not having to think about the way their face looks, but I found exactly the same thing with ‘Brienne of Tarth’, and that was very liberating. It was great as an actor to work on your skills — that it isn’t about holding your head so you look beautiful. It’s about what you’re transmitting, and to be in service of an idea greater than yourself, whether it’s the character’s overriding objective or, beyond that, hopefully something more sociopolitical. We have seen an image of [Phasma] and again, it’s an unconventional kind of woman exhibiting a kind of strength, but in a very different way to my other two characters.”
Avoiding gender stereotypes and archaic representations of both male and female characters is, of course, something we welcome with open arms. Gwendoline Christie has fast become one of the most complex and compelling characters in Westeros – no mean feat, mind – and we’re hoping that the actress can pull off a similar feat when The Force Awakens arrives in a few months’ time.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens will jump-start Disney’s far-flung galaxy come December 18.