Gwendoline Christie: Brienne “stepped into her own power” in season 8


Game of Thrones star Gwendoline Christie is one of three cast members who submitted themselves for Emmy consideration for their work on the final season of the show. Happily, all three have been nominated for their performances, and now they’re out there promoting themselves. Speaking to Deadline, Christie opened up about the season 8 read-through, filming the final episodes and how important it was to her that Brienne had the ending she did.

Christie kicks things off by comparing the emotions from her first-ever table read on Game of Thrones to her last. “I remember my first point of contact with the show was, in Season 2, at the read-through,” she recalled.

"I remember sitting there, and I had watched the first season, and it was sort of bewildering to me to be surrounded by all these people that I recognized. You start to see it come to life. And I had loved that first season. It was wonderful to have everybody together for that final read-through. Some people—most people—have read all the scripts. A couple of people wait until the day."

Once she started, Christie says she couldn’t stop reading the season 8 scripts until she was all the way through. “It was deeply, deeply emotional.”

"I thought I was doing fine, and then I went up to speak to [showrunners] David [Benioff] and Dan [Weiss] to say thanks. They said, “How are you?” I went, “I’m fine.” And then I totally broke down. I think the idea of it all ending suddenly hit me."

Still, Christie knew there was a grueling filming schedule ahead of the entire cast, so she kept her emotions in check. “You really don’t want to get in touch with that feeling, because you know you’ve got 10 months of really hard shooting ahead of you. There was a huge sense of loss, and a deep sadness, but I wasn’t going to indulge in that emotion. I was just going to focus on the fact that we’ve got to do it again, I had a brilliant storyline, and everybody was really thrilled and galvanized to be doing this.”

Speaking of emotion, Christie saved a lot of it for her final scene with Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jaime Lannister). “I didn’t subscribe to it at all during shooting,” she said. “I stayed focused on trying to bring something to life. Every moment, to me, felt like an opportunity. It was hard. The conditions were hard. The material was challenging. I was so absorbed in all of that, and I think everyone else was too.”

"It was only when it got to the last day of the Winterfell shoot, which was my last day of shooting in Belfast, where it bubbled up. It was also the scene in which Jaime and Brienne part for the last time. There was a bit more to do in Spain, but it would be the last time I worked with some of that crew in Belfast. I was very emotional that day; helpfully, as it turned out. It was a lot. [laughs] I allowed myself to be touched by the circumstances."

Gwendoline Christie and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau were able to film two really great scenes in season 8: Jaime knighting Brienne and Jaime saying goodbye to Brienne. Christie explains how she felt moving from that incredibly heartwarming scene in “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms,” to the equally incredibly heartbreaking one from “The Last of the Starks.”

"When I read that scene, I felt incredibly upset about it on the character’s behalf. And then I realized I had moved into that space where I feel deeply, deeply protective of this character. I was also thrilled about it as an actor, because it meant getting to use some real acting muscles. It was a brilliant scene. Nikolaj and I had worked on the relationship between Brienne and Jaime for seven years, and I knew we were going to thoroughly enjoy playing that out.I did feel angry for the character in that moment, but what was brilliant is that she goes straight back to work, and ultimately, she supersedes her ambition. She wanted to be a member of Renly’s Kingsguard, and in the end she becomes Lord Commander of Bran’s Kingsguard. She’s in charge. It’s all about her skill as a knight. Her abilities, her intelligence. I felt, by the end, like she’d stepped into her own power."

804 Brienne begs Jaime to stay Official The Last of the Starks. HBO

But of course, there were also scenes that she loved without having to fight through anything, like the one where Jaime knights Brienne. “It wasn’t about modifying something for her, or her gender,” Christie said. “It was about recognizing her qualities as a human being, and elevating her to that status, and her deserving that. I found that incredibly touching.”

"This is a character that never smiles. It was something that came from the books, and I always wondered when she would be allowed that smile. It was never there, and it was never appropriate. When it came to the last season, I did wonder if that moment was going to come for her. And there it was."

Helen Sloan – HBO (12) Brienne

Christie understands that Brienne fans were upset for her when Jaime left her to return to Cersei, but she wouldn’t have wanted the scene to have gone any other way. “I liked that Brienne elects to have that experience,” she said. “It was a very deliberate moment where she chose to activate the sexual experience.”

"She takes control of the situation, and she takes responsibility for it. I think it was good for her to allow herself to be emotional. She allows herself to display it. It doesn’t make her any weaker just because she is capable of feeling great pain. I’ve actually always felt that Brienne lives in a rich and sensitive emotional world. That coupled with this incredible physical strength, and moral strength, is what makes her so interesting and human."

Overall, Christie sounds very at peace with Brienne’s ending, and if she is awarded the Emmy, she’ll do it with her head held high. “I don’t think Brienne cares about things being easy. I think she cares about things being just and fair,” Christie said. “She wants to live in a world of equality and respect, but I think she acknowledges that her role in life is to work for that. That’s why her very last line in the series is, ‘I think that ships take precedence over brothels.’ I think we see an acknowledgment there, that she will carry on fighting for what is right.”

The 2019 Primetime Emmys will air on Fox on September 22.

dark. Next. George R.R. Martin has known how A Song of Ice and Fire ends for decades

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