Critics may have mixed feelings about the series finale of Game of Thrones, but star Gwendoline Christie (Brienne of Tarth) has nothing but praise for how the show wrapped up. In fact, she’s been making it a point to start discussions about the show’s ending with fans. During an interview with The Sydney Morning Herald, she said that the reactions she’s gotten have been generally positive. “Everyone’s said they didn’t expect that ending, but they could see why it made sense,” Christie said. And no matter what your thoughts on the finale, it certainly wasn’t predictable.
One story arc that did come full circle, however, was Brienne’s. After fulfilling her oath to Catelyn Stark, Brienne achieves two of the goals she’s been working toward for eight seasons: to become a knight and to become a member of the Kingsguard. And with Bran on the throne, she’s still protecting one of Catelyn’s children. The former Lady of Winterfell would have been proud.
It’s hard to complain about Brienne getting a much-deserved happy ending, and Christie agreed that she was satisfied with where the series took her character. “I could not believe that I made it all the way through,” she told The Sydney Morning Herald. “And I was in the end of the final episode. Brienne makes it through and has a life beyond. I found that incredibly positive and unexpected. And she gets a great last line.”
She’s talking, of course, about Brienne’s opinion that ships take precedence over brothels, a fitting statement from a character who spent eight seasons defying the patriarchal system under which brothels thrive.
And even if some fans weren’t thrilled with Brienne’s heartbreaking final moments with Jaime Lannister, Christie stood by her character’s response to Jaime returning to Cersei. She asserted that Brienne’s role as a strong character isn’t compromised by her ability to feel vulnerable, which is a good point.
“And she did get her happy ending,” Christie added, “and her happy ending wasn’t defined by a man. What completes her as a character and what makes her three dimensional as a character is the fact that she becomes open about her feelings.”
Christie said she identifies with Brienne’s emotional side and what her character stands for, so much so that she did everything in her power to land the role ahead of her debut in season 2. That included reading George R.R. Martin’s lengthy books in a short timespan and undergoing physical training. According to Christie, the physical transformation was one of the more challenging parts of embodying the character:
I was very scared to go near my androgyny, my masculinity, and my physical strength — and the strength with which I felt some of my own opinions, especially some of my opinions about women. It was the opportunity to do something I knew I needed to do, which was to undergo a change and undergo a transformation and get in touch with who I truly was and how I’ve been made physically and who I am as a person.
According to Christie, that exploration alone would have made the role worth taking, but once she began work in earnest and realized how positively people were reacting to the character, things went to another level. “I didn’t think that’s what audiences wanted,” she explained, “because we’ve been told that’s not what audiences want.”
But if Game of Thrones has done anything over the past decade, it’s proved that there is indeed a market for less traditional narratives, especially for women.
Christie’s already getting involved with new projects, including Armando Iannucci’s The Personal History of David Copperfield and a stage production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
“With Brienne, we were on the same page, but that doesn’t happen with every job,” Christie concluded. “I need to be more creatively involved in the things we work on.”
Hopefully, fans will one day get to see a film or television series with Christie at the helm. It’ll be almost exciting as seeing Brienne becoming a knight of the Seven Kingdoms.