*Disney provided me an all expense paid trip to LA for the Star Wars Event. All opinions are my own and not swayed by outside sources. Photo credit: Louise from MomStart.
We had the chance to interview the one and only Gwendoline Christie. While you may know her from the ever so popular Game of Thrones, this time she is reprising her role of Captain Phasma in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. It was an absolute pleasure to talk to her that day!
INTERVIEW WITH GWENDOLINE CHRISTIE:
Question 1: So without giving us any spoilers, can you tell us a little bit about your character in this movie?
She told us in the first film Phasma is an enigma and a true mystery. She turns up out of nowhere and has a very confrontational, threatening presence. This is compounded by what she is wearing, her 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, 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.”
Question 2: 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?
She told us her costume and armor was made to fit her exactly. In the first film no one was quite sure about her character. She told us initially they thought that the character could be male and then decided it would be more interesting to be female.
“And I just loved that we maintained the practicality of what she was wearing. And, 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. There is also a certain amount of strength and flexibility one needs, and I’m lucky enough to be working as an actor, so each moment, and 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. We worked on a lot of that for the film.”
Question 3: It seems like everybody’s putting you in armor lately. Do you have a favorite? Do you like one better than the other?
She told us there have been only two times when she had to put on her armor- this and her character in Game of Thrones, Brianna Tarth.
“ Brianna Tarth in Game of Thrones, when we first saw the character in season two, in the book she was described as Brianna the Blue. The armor was all blue. But the brilliant Michele Clapton, the costume designer and I, love this idea that she wanted the armor to be cobbled together pieces that Brianna had found and put together so she could have a suit of armor.
It was a literal representation of her building herself, of her self-creation. And then of course, Jaimie Lannister gives her the Couture blue armor; the whole outfit. Michele has so beautifully designed that, but Michael Kaplan who designed Captain Phasma’s costume is someone that I had absolutely always loved his work.
He worked on the original Blade Runner, so I was aware of who he was and the work that he’d done, and it’s just so shiny. Who couldn’t resist something as shiny as that? I don’t ever like to make preferences, but I think in this case, it has to be Captain Phasma.”
Question 4: Have you had a chance to read the Captain Phasma novel yet?
She says she is reading it right now and she loves it! She says it is really brilliant!
“It’s really brilliant. It’s genuinely so good and it 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. You formulate your own ideas about what is the character motivation, and 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.
I’m really excited to be reading it at the moment.”
Question 5: If you had a light saber in real life, what color would it be?
She said she thinks it would be pink because of it representing breast cancer and also for the gay community.
Question 6: 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 fight- to sword fight, 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 Brianna 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.”
She told us when she got the role she was going to fully commit to it. To be in a Star Wars film and do something incredibly difficult was hard and C.C. pushed her to go even further each and every time. 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 without ego, as well. He is an amazing teacher and to be reunited with him was fantastic. He is 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.”
Question 7: 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. What did you add of yourself to it, to make it more human, or to make it more relatable?
First and foremost, she told us she is a real person and you have to think why people behave a certain way. She told us often people behave in a malevolent way, it’s because that’s the base of it. They are 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. Then they think how they are going to fight back.
“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 someone like Brianna Tarth, who 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.
We had a lovely time interviewing Gwendoline Christie who plays Captain Phasma in the upcoming Star Wars: The Last Jedi out on December 15th.