Back in December 2014, the world learned that Gwendoline Christie would be traveling from Westeros to a galaxy far, far away in order to play Captain Phasma in ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’. Like her ‘Game of Thrones’ character Brienne of Tarth, the English actress would be portraying an imposing and powerful warrior. But this time around as Captain Phasma, she was met with the challenge of performing as a character that would be armored head to toe for presumably the entirety of the movie. Now, the actress opens up about some of those obstacles, as well as the appeal of the character to her.
While speaking to Variety recently, Christie echoed her statements from this year’s San Diego Comic-Con where she shared her excitement for playing a female Stormtrooper that didn’t really worry about the way she looked. She also shared that it was imperative to director J.J. Abrams that she be in the suit to deliver the physical performance as opposed to Darth Vader, where James Earl Jones provided the voiceover for David Prowse. But being the one in the chromed out armor had a few tests of her acting abilities that she welcomed with open arms:
“It was very important to J.J. that I was there acting a part. I found it to be a really interesting acting challenge, not just because of what I felt this character was representing — and it was just what I felt, and we talked about it a little bit, but it was never like a manifesto, ‘this is what it must be’ — and it was exciting to me to have that weight of responsibility taken away, of having to be a certain way as a woman, to have to be mindful in a way that isn’t always useful.
To have that stripped away was very liberating, and it meant that as an actor I had to focus on other things. I had to focus on what my body was communicating and what exactly my voice is communicating… It becomes about the way in which you hold your hand, the way in which you walk, where your weight lies and what you want that to mean, and I wanted to give the character identity. I thought it was interesting to make something about the character identifiably female in a non-superficial way, and I hope that comes across.”
Conveying a character’s identity while their face is completely covered has always been an interesting thing in movies. The person under the mask needs to find new ways to deliver emotion through their performance. We’ve seen it with Michael Fassbender in ‘Frank’, but the best example might be found in another corner of the ‘Star Wars’ universe. Boba Fett is one of the most loved characters in the entire franchise. Until the prequels came out, we only saw him with his helmet on. Yet even with his face covered, we knew that he was a badass by the way he acted. I could see something similar with Christie’s Phasma, or at least see that that is probably what they were going for, except they had the added hurdle of showing that the villain is a lady that you don’t want to mess with. We’ll see how successful they were in doing so once the film premieres this winter.
What do you think about Gwendoline Christie’s comments on her character Captain Phasma? Are you excited to see her in ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’? Let us know in the comments below.