This trip was sponsored by Disney. This does not affect my opinions and they are 100% my own. Star Wars: The Last Jedi is only a few days away from opening. I am so excited to see it. While I was in LA for the Star Wars press junket we did so many things, and I can’t wait to share them all with you. I have already posted about the fab STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI press event experience as well as our Disneyland Holiday Visit + the updated Star Tours – The Adventure Continues ride. If you haven’t read those yet – be sure to check them out and see all of the fun pictures! Yesterday we shared our interview with Laura Dern interview about her role as “Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo” and today we are sharing our Gwendoline Christie (“Captain Phasma”) interview.
I just have to note right up front that I LOVE how tall she is. I have always been taller myself and it is not very often I get to stand next to another woman and feel short lol. I told her that and we both had a good laugh. She is beautiful inside and out! You may recognize her as Brienne of Tarth in Game of Thrones. She does an incredible job in that role as well. I can’t wait to see more of her as Captain Phasma in Star Wars: The Last Jedi!
So without giving us any spoilers, can you tell us a little bit about your character in this movie?
Gwendoline : 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. Thank you very much. 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.
What I loved about it, is that in the world that we live in, we are met with a 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 of 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.
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 a costume that informs your acting, as well.
Gwendoline : Well, on this, I was actually lucky enough to be given a contoured suit, so the armor was made to fit my dimensions exactly. In the first film, no one was quite sure about this character. 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.
And 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.
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. 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.
Have you had a chance to read the Captain Phasma novel yet?
Gwendoline : I’m reading it at the moment. I’ve been very lucky to be really busy and so 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.
It’s genuinely so good and that it just explains so much about the character. Rian 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 formulate your own ideas about what is the character motivation. As an actor, you have to 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. But I’m really excited to be reading it at the moment, and it’s just framed so interestingly and the depth of imagination…I’m very excited that we have similar ideas.
If you had a light saber in real life, what color would it be?
Gwendoline : I think it would be pink, because of what that represents. It’s a pink ribbon that represents wanting to stand with the further research into breast cancer. The idea of pink and the pink pound with 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.
So what was training like for both of these roles, and much do you have to throw yourself into it for Captain Phasma?
Gwendoline : 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, he 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. 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.
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 training as a part of my life.
He’s the person that made me enjoy it; that gave me the spirit to say, ‘I’m gonna commit to this fully’. So to be reunited on a Star Wars film, and to do something incredibly difficult, 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 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.
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 : 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 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.
And it’s great to see an unconventional woman be the hero, even for a moment. Even if it is fleeting; even for a moment that the opportunity to play the opposite of that where someone like Brienne of Tarth has the strength, and 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 a mother- whatever that means which is a multidimensional thing, I truly believe. The opposite of that fascinated me, and I felt like the opportunities were limitless.
This was such a great interview and we learned so much about not only Gwendoline, but also her characters as Brienne of Tarth and Captain Phasma. She gave us some great insight into her character and I can’t wait to see her in action this weekend when Star Wars: The Last Jedi comes out!
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STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI opens in theatres everywhere December 15th!