Here are 10 interesting facts about actress Gwendoline Christie, best known to Star Wars fans as Captain Phasma and to Game of Thrones fans as Brienne of Tarth.
Gwendoline Christie is best known to fans as Brienne of Tarth in HBO’s Game of Thrones series. Although not as recognizable in her Star Wars role, Christie nevertheless left a short but memorable impression in the minds of fans who saw her in The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi as Captain Phasma — the caped, chrome-armored commander of the First Order’s stormtrooper units.
For those interested in learning more about this talented warrior maiden, we present a list of interesting (and perhaps little known) facts.
1. She was once a semi-pro gymnast
Christie was once a semi-professional gymnast with her specialty being in rhythmic gymnastics. Unfortunately, her promising career was cut short after she suffered a debilitating spinal injury at age 11 that strained all the muscles in her spine.
2. Some of her biggest fans are a former president and popstar icon
Christie’s role as Brienne of Tarth was one of the most beloved and badass characters of the Game of Thrones series. Among her biggest fans was former president Barack Obama, who besides being a fan of Game of Thrones in general, is on record for showing particular interest in the comings-and-goings of Christie’s character.
Another celebrity fan of Christie’s is none other than the Material Girl herself, Madonna. In fact, while winding down her “Rebel Heart Tour” in Sydney, Australia, she had her manager invite Christie to attend the event as the “unapologetic b**** of the night.” The two swapped dirty Game of Thrones jokes on the stage, and at one time, Madonna even spanked her. Yep. Only Madonna could get away with spanking Brienne of Tarth. Okay, maybe Jamie Lannister is a close-second.
3. Her casting inspired Captain Phasma’s gender to change (partly)
Christie — who is a life-long Star Wars fan — had aggressively pursued a part in the new Star Wars trilogy since the time she found out it was being made. Among the parts she had auditioned for was that of the First Order’s stormtroopers leader, Captain Phasma. The only problem — the character was originally meant to be male.
Nevertheless, Christie impressed the casting directors enough to choose her for portraying the character. It didn’t hurt either that there had been some backlash for lack of female representation in the new Star Wars film.
4. She’s not just an actress, she’s a fan too
A lot of actors and actresses cast in popular comic book or book series properties probably aren’t that familiar with the fictional characters or universes that they are playing onscreen. However, Gwendoline Christie isn’t one of them. As a matter of fact, she’s a genuine fan of both Game of Thrones and Star Wars.
In regards to G.R.R. Martin’s Songs of Ice and Fire series that inspired HBO’s Game of Thrones, Christie is one of the few cast members to have actually read all of the currently released books. As for Star Wars, Christie expressed her love for the franchise while being interviewed by NewsFeed.
In response to a question by the interviewer about her earliest impressions of Star Wars, Christie said:
"Just being shown it at age 6 was like opening the door to another world — a world that continues to be iconic all these years later."
5. A decent Yoda impersonation she does
Also during the aforementioned interview with NewsFeed, Christie was asked by the interviewer if she could tell him/those watching who her favorite Star Wars character was, but to say it as Yoda would. Even with little preparation, Christie was able to manage a witty, on-the-spot response in Yoda’s classic backwards-speech. You can catch hear it at the end of this YouTube video from NewsFeed.
For your convenience here’s a transcription of what she said:
“Errmm, Princess Leia, she’s strong woman. Has strong independent mindset, and good hairstyle.”
6. “Brienne” loves “The Hound” and a few other things
Who would have known that Brienne of Tarth had a thing for The Hound? It’s true, Gwendoline Christie’s favorite actor is her former co-star Rory McCann.
By the way, her favorite actress is Courteney Cox. Her favorite food is clam chowder. And, her favorite mobile app is Instagram.
7. Her Emmy awards dress was inspired by Jesus Christ
Awards ceremonies are known for being sort of like Paris catwalks for actresses to not only promote their latest films but also the dresses and gowns of famous or emerging fashion designers. As you might expect, this often leads to some classic to disastrous results.
Gwendoline Christie’s 71st Emmy Awards dress in 2019 was one that ascended above the rest of her peers — thanks to some divine inspiration. Literally, it did, as it was designed after some famous artwork of Jesus Christ, the divine leader of the Christian faith.
8. If you try bribing her for spoilers, you’ll get pranked
During an interview with TBS late-night host Conan O’Brien, Gwendoline Christ was asked how she handles situations where fans/friends ask her for spoilers to Game of Thrones. Her response was a funny one. She shared an example of a dentist friend she was having lunch begging for her to share spoilers of the upcoming season. She promised that she would on one condition. This person had to pay for her lunch.
The eager friend agreed to the terms, but afterward, when the time came for them to get their spoilers, Christie pulled a prank and told them, “In next season of Game of Thrones… there’s cars.”
9. She has impressive attributes
Christie stands a towering 6’ 3”, putting her above many of her fellow actresses — including Sigourney Weaver — who is a well-known tall leading lady. Also, her shoe size is a U.S. women’s 12.5.
10. She has a long list of first gigs
Christie’s first on-screen credit was the 2007 short film The Time Surgeon. Her first television credit was on the BBC’s The Seven Ages of Britain as the Operator. Her first acting credit is listed on her CV as playing Mrs. Hubble in Great Expectations.
11. Christie is Star Wars’ first leading female villain
Although her screen time was short, much like Boba Fett, Gwendoline Christie likewise made an instant impression on fans from the first time they saw her. She also made Star Wars history by being its first leading villain that was a female.
12. The planet Captain Phasma is from is a nod to one of her previous films
The name of Captain Phasma’s home planet is Parnassos, which sounds very familiar to The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, a Terry Gilliam film that she had a small role in. This film was noteworthy for being the last movie that Heath Ledger played in before he died.
For more facts about Star Wars actors, check out the Star Wars Actors category on Dork Side of the Force!