Gwendoline Christie Takes Us Inside Phasma’s and Brienne’s Armor During #TheLastJediEvent

From Brienne of Tarth on Game of Thrones to Captain Phasma in Star Wars, Gwendoline Christie has created iconic roles in television and film.  One of the things that drew Gwendoline Christie to Star Wars was precisely because Captain Phasma was polar opposite from Brienne of Tarth – oh, and Phasma’s shiny armor too.  Gwendoline Christie sat down with us during #TheLastJediEvent, and was so thoughtful about her work and characters.  Continue reading for more of Gwendoline Christie’s contrasts between Brienne of Tarth and Captain Phasma as well as her thoughts on the portrayal of women in the Star Wars universe.

STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI press event

Gwendoline Christie meets with bloggers at the STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI press event, photo by Louise Bishop MomStart.com

DISCLOSURE:  I was hosted by Walt Disney Studios, Lucasfilm Ltd., and ABC Television on an all expense paid trip to Los Angeles, California including airfare, hotel accommodations, transportation, and meals to attend the global media days and learn more about STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI.  All opinions expressed are those of the author.

At its core, Star Wars is a foundational story of good versus evil.  The story resonates today because our world is a changing and evolving place but retains the simplicity of that dichotomy.  Gwendoline Christie noted, “I love Brienne of Tarth, a character with a strong moral compass who gets to be the hero for just a moment. In Star Wars, I get to play a character that is just the opposite of that – Captain Phasma has the need to destroy, be powerful, violent – is something totally different.”

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie) © 2017 Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

That type of power, violence, and malice is not typically seen in female characters and drew Gwendoline Christie into the role.  “You get to see women being strong not just because they are acting like men,” said Christie, “I’m delighted that something as legendary as Star Wars has decided to be modern and reflect our society as it is.”

Without revealing much Gwendoline Christie hinted we will see much more of Captain Phasma’s character arc in THE LAST JEDI.  She added, “in the first film Phasma is an enigma, she has a threatening presence, compounded by the suit of armor, and we want to see what’s behind the mask.  For THE LAST JEDI, we see more of Phasma, we see her resilience, her need to fulfill an overriding sense of revenge.”

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

L to R: Finn (John Boyega) battling Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie)
© 2017 Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

It’s clear Gwendoline Christie has empathy for Captain Phasma, and wants to understand what brought the character to this point.  “People behave in a malevolent way because they are fearful,” explains Christie, “the fear overtakes them and manifests as a total loss of empathy that makes them think about only themselves, their own needs, how they feel attacked, and how they are going to fight back.  At this point it’s about the needs of an individual, and not the needs of a group.”  Time will tell if we learn just what has made Captain Phasma so afraid.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Premiere

Gwendoline Christie arrives on the red carpet for the world premiere of Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Photo: Alex J. Berliner / ABImages ).

The striking costume design is a large part of the character of Captain Phasma.  “The costume designer on The Force Awakens (Michael Kaplan) was from the original Blade Runner,” Christie explained, “and it (Phasma’s armor) was just so shiny.”  However, the costume also informs the acting.  In this case, the armor entirely blocks the senses, makes you rigid and uncompromising, challenges walking, and requires great strength and force just to move.  Gwendoline Christie noted, “Captain Phasma has a degree of strength that has to exist muscularly, and there’s a certain amount of strength and flexibility that you need as an actor.”

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie) Mega Destroyer and Stormtroopers. Photo by David James ©2017 Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

Developing that strength and flexibility requires training that re-united Gwendoline Christie with C.C. Smiff, swordmaster and stunt supervisor on Game of Thrones.  “C.C. Smiff taught me to sword fight on Game of Thrones at the start of the show.  Brienne of Tarth is a woman with a different strength and configuration than Gwendoline, and C.C. Smiff put me on a path so that training is a part of my life.  Now I’m reunited on a Star Wars film with the person (Smiff) that gave me the courage that I can do more than I ever thought I could do.  He was the person that made me enjoy the training, and gave me the spirit to commit fully.”

STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI press event

Gwendoline Christie meets with bloggers at the STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI press event, photo by Louise Bishop MomStart.com

Speaking of people with spirit who committed fully to life, Gwendoline Christie ended our discussion reflecting on Carrie Fisher.

“She (Carrie Fisher) was very significant. I was first shown a new hope when I was 6; and that character was very different.  She’s really interesting, smart, funny, courageous, bold, and doesn’t care what people do.  That was instrumental to me as a woman who doesn’t feel like they fit into that mold.  You can be inspirational, be yourself, without making a big compromise; playing the character Phasma in The Force Awakens I was excited that her femininity was not defined by the shape of her physical elements.”

STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI

L to R: Director Rian Johnson with Carrie Fisher (Leia) on set. Photo by David James ©2017 Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

Gwendoline Christie brings Captain Phasma’s destructive force back to the screen when STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI opens on December 15.

STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI

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About Dave Parfitt

Married, father of two girls, and living in the heart of the Finger Lakes. I'm a runner with a PhD in neuroscience and a passion for travel.