Gwendoline Christie is one of the most intense actresses out right now. When Game of Thrones is on you know I’m cheering for Brienne of Tarth. In The Force Awakens Captain Phasma came on the scene and we don’t know a lot about her personally, but we do know she is on “The Dark Side” and her costume and entire being was a wee bit intimidating. A group of Social Influencers and I sat down with the woman behind the mask, the lovely Gwendoline Christie, and let me say that she is a lovely person full of sunshine. So let’s get to the interview:
Q: So without giving us any spoilers, can you tell us a little bit about your character in this movie?
Gwendoline Christie: “In the first film, Phasma is 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. I think there’s something about those characters that are masked, that 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.”
Q: You have such an amazing costume. So I would love to know if there’s kind of a physical transformation that takes place when you’re in costume that informs your acting, as well.
Gwendoline Christie: “Well, on this, I was actually lucky enough to be given a 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. You know, they have this character, and they loved it, and then they made a series of decisions where, I believe, I think initially they thought that possibly the character could be male, and then the decision was made that it would be more interesting for the character to be female.
I just loved that we maintained the practicality of what she was wearing. And, you know, 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.
As an actor, you have the challenge of just how to move which I’ve spoken about before- just walking becomes a challenge, but you realize that that person is exerting a great deal of force just to move, and that force is coming from within. This is something they’ve elected to do is to dress this way. And the idea of the senses being shot down, and sometimes entirely, that’s an interesting choice to make as a person, and in this case, as a female to elect to have all of your senses shut down- to exist entirely practically.
So I was really fascinated by that. I also, you know, there’s a certain amount of strength and flexibility one needs, and I’m lucky enough to be working as an actor, so each at the moment, and [LAUGHS] the role that you take on, it says there’s something you need to do. So for other roles, it’s that something that you need to do is less than what you normally do because that person’s more- their energy’s back more, or they have less connectivity to their body. With someone like Captain Phasma, she has a degree of strength that has to exist muscularly, so she is a strong person, physically. And you know, that- we worked on a lot of that for the film.”
Q: Have you had a chance to read the Captain Phasma novel yet?
Gwendoline Christie: “I’m reading it at the moment. I’ve been very lucky to be really- well, busy and so will tell you is that on my breaks from 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’s really brilliant, but it’s genuinely so good and that it just explains so much about the character. Ryan and I had sat down at the very beginning- I felt very privileged that the director wanted to sit down with me and say, what do you think, the way he did with everyone in the cast. And you know, you formulate your own ideas about what is the character motivation, and as an actor, you must have those motivations in order to be a human, otherwise it’s just a series of kind of facts and nobody feels any connection to that. I’m really excited to be reading it at the moment, and it’s just framed so interestingly and the depth of imagination is- I’m very excited that we have similar ideas. But Delilah Dawson? I think she’s brilliant.
Q: Although we didn’t see that much of Captain Phasma in the first movie, or the last movie, how did you mentally prepare yourself with the character because this is a very complex character. You could see it, and what did you add of yourself to it, to make it more human, or to make it more relatable?
Gwendoline Christie: “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.
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, and I love the character of Brianna Toth whose got this incredible moral compass. It’s great to see 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.”
I’m really interested in seeing more of Captain Phasma’s back story and it sounds like we will hear more about it in The Last Jedi. I’m almost wondering if an event took away her children and made her full of revenge. What do you think? We will all find out soon!
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
“In Lucasfilm’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the Skywalker saga continues as the heroes of The Force Awakens join the galactic legends in an epic adventure that unlocks age-old mysteries of the Force and shocking revelations of the past.” The film stars Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Gwendoline Christie, Kelly Marie Tran, Laura Dern and Benicio Del Toro.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi is written and directed by Rian Johnson and produced by Kathleen Kennedy and Ram Bergman. J.J. Abrams, Tom Karnowski and Jason McGatlin are the executive producers. Star Wars: The Last Jedi opens in U.S. theaters on December 15, 2017.