Gwendoline Christie “delighted” by Brienne’s story, sets sights on Emmy


Gwendoline Christie’s (Brienne of Tarth) star is rising, and she’ll never forget that Game of Thrones gave it a big boost. Sitting down for an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Christie addressed why she decided to submit herself for consideration for a 2019 Emmy award, something she did alongside fellow Thrones stars Alfie Allen (Theon Greyjoy) and Carice Van Houten (Melisandre). All three ended up with nominations, so Thrones now has a total of 10 actors up for Emmys. “None of us expected it,” Christie said. “It’s a huge, huge surprise.”

It was her intense connection to Brienne and her journey that compelled Christie to nominate herself. “When I read the script for the final season, I was delighted that Brienne had such a full storyline,” she said. “I set about working the hardest I’ve ever worked to try to bring that to life, because it was happening for the last time. I just wanted the possibility of the opportunity [to be nominated].”

The self-submission was as much about Christie’s personal development and confidence as it was trying to win a statuette: “It was useful to me, as a person, to take that step of putting it forward. I remember talking about it with my team and saying, ‘I feel like I just want to do it for me, for the character.’ And I said to them, ‘Don’t worry about me being disappointed. I genuinely do not expect it to amount to anything.'”

The nomination marks the end of a long journey for Christie, one she wasn’t sure would ever materialize. “During my training in drama school, I had been told, ‘If you’re lucky, once in your life, maybe, you come across a character that speaks to you,” Christie remembered. “I read about Brienne — and it was this character.”

"I felt that my experiences as a woman, with the way that I look, and [the feeling that] my experiences of life somehow weren’t relevant and didn’t have a place, and somehow didn’t mean success. All I knew was I had an extreme emotional connection to her. I wanted to play this part because, for me as an actor, I felt like this was a character with something to say, that allowed me to speak my truth."

Christie was thankful for the opportunity to play Brienne, and the character’s immense and painful transformation became her own. “When the job started, I was so grateful for it, just to go through the process and see all these things about myself that I had always, frankly, been ashamed of — my height, my size, scars on my face, my position in the world as a woman, what I believed in — and face all those things, and expose myself.”


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At the start, Christie didn’t tell anyone but her partner about the nomination. And then came the day her publicist called with the good news. “When they said I’d been nominated — well, let me tell you, I experienced every single emotion known to man. (Laughs.) I spoke with them again 15 minutes later and said, ‘It’s not a mistake, is it?’ Because I just could not believe it.”

And what did Christie think of Ser Brienne of Tarth’s ending, becoming a true knight and a member of King Bran’s small council? She was “really delighted by it.”

"We saw a woman who decided to take control of her own destiny from the very beginning. We saw a woman who …  ends up as the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard. She also allows herself the opportunity to have a sexual experience, which is her choosing. She takes responsibility for any potential outcomes of it. She allows herself to be vulnerable and emotional."

THR also asked if Brienne’s decision to remain in King’s Landing rather than rejoining Sansa Stark in the North is partially to avoid Tormund Giantsbane’s unwanted attentions. “That is hilarious,” Christie laughed. “No, I never thought that, but maybe that’s the reason! I always thought it was that Brienne has decided to stop serving other people.”

It’s all about growth in the end, for both the character and the actor. “She’s starting to be in control,” Christie said. “It starts being about her own intellect, her own skill, and her own ability to be in charge and be in control. And I love that her final line is ‘I think ships take precedence over brothels.'”

When asked what she believes TV viewers can learn from the experiences of both Christie and Brienne, Christie is extremely positive. “We’re starting to see different kinds of stories in our entertainment,” she said. “We’re starting to see more women’s stories, more stories of people of color, of older people, of members of the LGBTQ community.”

"As it’s said on Game of Thrones, in the great line that Tyrion Lannister delivers: ‘There is nothing as powerful as a good story.’ I will say women often find it difficult to put themselves forward, and maybe that’s what we need to take the courage to do in order to see a greater diversity in the world. We can empower ourselves by putting ourselves forward for something we never believe is going to happen."

We’ll be pulling for Christie when the Emmy Awards air on September 22. We’ll also be pulling for her costars nominated in the same category. It’ll be a confusing night.

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