Gwendoline Christie on the androgyny of her “Game of Thrones” character


If you’re an avid Game of Thrones watcher, you probably have your favorite Lady. But I, myself, prefer the women in armor — specifically Brienne of Tarth.

Gwendoline Christie plays the tall, strong protector of Catelyn Stark, a woman warrior unafraid of battle and preferring a sword to a set of pearls. She’s my kind of woman, and she recently participated in a panel about her character that I think you’ll find exciting if you appreciate people who defy gender norms.

How she feels about playing a warrior vs. a more feminine royal role:

Well I think women in Game Of Thrones have a harder job because they’re existing within a man’s world, so the means by which they use to get what they want have to be highly skilled, they have to be dedicated to their execution. In the way that Brienne of Tarth has to push her capabilities beyond that of most men, I think that intellectually someone like Cersei has to be utterly strategic, precisely strategic, in order to get what she wants. I think the stakes are much higher for women.

How Brienne sees herself as a woman and as a warrior:

Well what I think is so brilliant about this show is that it takes an outsider and an archetype which isn’t so often seen, which is that of the extremely tall woman that has a strength that can match that of her male counterparts and it explores that and how do I think she feels standing in the armour? I think that she feels in order to be equal to a man that she has to assume masculine traits. I think that it’s interesting to explore that journey of femininity and what it is to be a woman and what it is to be a woman that stands opposite a man and is equal to him. Personally I feel that Brienne is coming to terms with that, with her own femininity. It doesn’t have to be an affectation of masculinity. She doesn’t have to do an impersonation of a man, that I think her interaction and encounter with Catelyn Stark was enormously illuminating to her because she sees a woman that is full of power and strength, but is also very, very much a mother and motherhood, certainly to Brienne, encapsulates being a woman. And she says, “I’d rather die on the battlefield than I would die in childbirth,” and I think it shows the evolution of one woman’s psychology and I think that’s incredibly enlightening and brave for a mainstream television show to have that sort of storyline. And I’m incredibly proud to have the opportunity to play that.

On how female fans respond to her:

There was a convention that Charles and I did [London Film and Comic Con] and I was overwhelmed by the number of women who came up and said how much they loved the part. And thanked me for playing it. It’s very important to me the way in which women are portrayed and it interests me. And there isn’t a slew of parts that are like this that explore notions of femininity and what it is to be a woman or gender stereotyping and when its affected someone, when anything you do has actually touched someone, then you’ve done your job.

Game of Thrones returns for Season 3 on March 31.

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