Gwendoline Christie can rock a stormtrooper uniform just as well as a full plate of armour.
The Sussex-born actress, best known as the indomitable Brienne of Tarth on “Game of Thrones,” reprises her role as the first female stormtrooper, Captain Phasma, in “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.” Captain Phasma commands the First Order’s legions of stormtroopers.
In honour of Christie’s meteoric rise to fame, we’re taking a look back at her career.
Born October 28, 1978, Gwendoline Christie grew up in the countryside of Sussex, England.
Her first passion was rhythmic gymnastics, but she suffered a serious back injury at age 11. “I was told that I wouldn’t be able to dance again at that level,” she told Access Hollywood.
Source: Access Hollywood
“I decided I’d become an actress instead,” she said. At age 15, Christie took on the role of Lady Macbeth in Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” and felt she found her calling.
She studied at the famous Drama Centre London, whose alumni include Michael Fassbender, Colin Firth, and future “Game of Thrones” castmate Emilia Clarke.
The school’s rigour earned it the nickname Trauma Center. “I was told I was rubbish all day, every day,” Christie told Stylist. “But really that prepares you for the amount of rejection you get on the job.”
Christie stood at six feet and three inches — and her height soon became an obstacle. Casting directors turned her away saying that she was too tall.
In an attempt to appear more feminine, Christie wore makeup, heels, and long hair.
As a student, she modelled nude for Australian photographer Polly Borland in a series entitled “Bunny.” Christie said the experience helped her come to terms with her body.
polly borland良すぎ pic.twitter.com/KYhOXAqzjH
– オートモアイ (@auto_moai) February 22, 2015
Christie posed in a body suit and pantyhose to parody the iconic Playboy bunnies.
Christie set out on a mission to take roles that challenged traditional notions of femininity and what it is to be a woman. She decided her size would not hold her back anymore.
She made her theatre debut in 2005 in Royal Shakespeare Company’s “Great Expectations,” and later landed roles in British productions of “Gilgamesh” and “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”
Her first role in a major movie came in 2009, when she was cast in Terry Gilliam’s “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.” Her IMDb credit says “Classy Shopper 2.”
At last, in 2010, word began to spread that the producers of the hit HBO show “Game of Thrones” were searching for an actress for the role of Brienne of Tarth in season two.
In George R.R. Martin’s “A Song Of Ice And Fire,” Brienne is a female knight who fights valiantly, demands respect from her male peers, and gives herself fully to those who earn her loyalty.
Fans of the series threw their support behind Christie for the role in online forums. Christie also took to Twitter to lobby — hard.
“I wanted the part so very badly because from reading the books the character was so like elements of myself,” Christie told GamesRadar. “I’ve not come across a part like this before, whereby the complexities of being an extremely tall woman are explored.”
Christie lost over 20 pounds and gained it back in muscle in preparation for her audition. She traded her blouses and skirts for androgynous clothing to look the part.
But by then, her fate was already sealed. The show’s casting director saw Christie perform in “Great Expectations” and was convinced they found their Brienne. She got the part.
Christie has since become a fan favourite, winning hearts for her valor and for challenging gender stereotypes. Her character has survived through at least season seven.
In 2015, Christie took on her biggest silver-screen role yet in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” She plays Captain Phasma, the franchise’s first female stormtrooper.
“I can remember the precise moment I was cast as Captain Phasma in ‘Star Wars.’ It was an explosion of unbelievable joy,” Christie, a longtime “Star Wars” fan, wrote in a piece for Vogue.
Captain Phasma is no ordinary stormtrooper. She wears chrome armour and a tattered black cape. And she has a penchant for making life difficult for FN-2187, also known as Finn.
Phasma serves on the First Order, a military group inspired by the Galactic Empire.
Christie worked with “Force Awakens” director JJ Abrams to create the character. The armour, she said, allows her to focus on body language and voice, not looking beautiful.
It felt familiar. “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,” Christie told Variety, “but I found exactly the same thing with Brienne of Tarth, and that was very liberating.”
Finn and Captain Phasma meet once again in “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.”
We won’t spoil the movie for you.
But if you want to know what happens with Captain Phasma in “The Last Jedi,” the filmmakers spoke with Entertainment Weekly about her fate in a spoiler-heavy post. Check it out here.
Christie is slated to appear in at least three movies due in theatres in 2018: “The Darkes Minds,” “In Fabric,” and “The Women of Marwen” from filmmaker Robert Zemeckis.
The Force is strong with Christie’s career.
— The Pixel Factor (@ThePixelFactor) October 16, 2017
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