Becoming Captain Phasma: Exclusive Interview with Gwendoline Christie #TheLastJediEvent

Disclosure: This trip to LA and Disneyland for #TheLastJediEvent was sponsored by Walt Disney World. As always, the thoughts and opinions are my own.


As I mentioned yesterday, it’s Star Wars week! I got to see a screening of the film yesterday with the hubby so I can’t wait to share more. But today is all about our time and interview with the fierce and fabulous Gwendoline Christie. You most likely know her as Brienne of Tarth on Game of Thrones. But she is the mysterious woman behind the Captain Phasma armor in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. We first saw her in The Force Awakens.

I absolutely adored Gwendoline, she was such a joy to speak with. I was in awe of her poise, beauty, grace, and charisma. Below is the interview we conducted.

Will we see more Captain Phasma in The Last Jedi?

In the first film, Phasma is a mystery. She turns up out of nowhere. Phasma has this very confrontational, threatening presence, and that’s sort of compounded or emphasized by what she’s wearing- by this suit of armor which is entirely practical.

I think there’s something about those characters that are masked, that we want to see what’s behind the mask. What I loved about it is the idea of having that moment- the sort of suspension of disbelief where you have the space and are forced to wonder who is this, and who are they? I was very attracted by that.

Photo Credit Louise Bishop / MomStart.com

We do see more Phasma in the film. What we see is her resilience; her need to fulfill an overriding sense of revenge. And we see something that we don’t commonly see in female characters: we see this violence that comes from deep within her. That’s something I find interesting about this character. Women are not conventionally supposed to have a violence that comes from deep within.

About Captain Phasma’s dope costume

The question was asked: Is there a physical transformation that takes place when you’re in the costume that informs your acting, as well?

I was actually lucky enough to be given a Couture suit, so the armor was made to fit my dimensions exactly. In the first film, no one was quite sure about this character. They have this character they loved.

And then they made a series of decisions where I think initially they thought that possibly the character could be male. Then the decision was made that it would be more interesting for the character to be female.

I just loved that we maintained the practicality of what she was wearing. So, of course, you put this armor on, and you feel rigid and uncompromising.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi..Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie) and Stormtroopers..Photo: David James..©2017 Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

As an actor, you have the challenge of just how to move – just walking becomes a challenge. But you realize that that person is exerting a great deal of force just to move, and that force is coming from within. And the idea of the senses being shot down, and sometimes entirely, that’s an interesting choice to make as a person, and in this case, as a female to elect to have all of your senses shut down- to exist entirely practically. I was really fascinated by that.

With someone like Captain Phasma, she has a degree of strength that has to exist muscularly, so she is a strong person, physically. We worked on a lot of that for the film.

If Gwendoline had a real-life lightsaber, what color would it be?

I think it would be pink, [LAUGHS], because of what that represents, you know? It’s a pink ribbon that represents wanting to stand with the further research into breast cancer, the idea of pink and the gay community which is a community I’ve always had a strong relationship with. But also because it’s kind of a double-edged sword.

When something is pink, you think it’s soft and fluffy, and then, WHOOP! I just cut your head off. [LAUGHTER]

Star Wars: The Last Jedi: L to R: Finn (John Boyega) battling Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie)
Photo: Lucasfilm Ltd. © 2017 Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

What was training like to become Captain Phasma?

Well, something really wonderful happened which was that I was reunited with the brilliant stunt director/stuntman, C.C. Smiff. C.C. Smiff taught me to fight on Game of Thrones at the start of season two when I was first starting the show.

It was C.C. that taught me to swordfight and was with me in all of those scenes when there was fighting. And also sometimes when there wasn’t because I was concerned about executing the physicality of that character.

It was always important to me that Brienne of Tarth is a woman. She isn’t a woman acting like a man. She is a woman. But she has a different strength and a different configuration to Gwendolyn. And I wanted that to be as resolved as possible.

I was very dedicated with C.C. He was the person that set me on the path to training as a part of my life. He’s the person that made me enjoy it; that gave me the spirit to say, I’m gonna commit to this fully.

Photo Credit Louise Bishop / MomStart.com

It was great to be reunited on a Star Wars film, and to do something exceptionally difficult, and for him to push me to go further, and to be there.

He’s the person that helped to give me the courage in the first place, to say you can do more than you ever thought, physically, and to do it with a great deal of humor, and charm, and humanity. And he’s a man always sort of without ego, as well. I mean, what an amazing, an amazing teacher and he’s also so brilliant about how he puts things together, and how they evolve about pushing you further, and in terms of your strength.

But also recognizing, which I think is the most important thing- how to keep you safe, and when to keep you safe because I’m lucky enough to have never broken a bone, and I would like to keep it that way. [LAUGHTER]

Star Wars Training Featurette

Mental preparation & humanizing Captain Phasma

Well, she’s a person. You think about why people behave the way that they do. Often, people that behave in a malevolent way, it’s because that’s the base of it- they’re fearful. The fear overtakes them and it can manifest itself in a total loss of empathy.

The total loss of empathy causes the person to only think about themselves and their own needs, and their own brain space becomes about how they feel attacked, and how they’re going to fight back.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi: Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie); Photo: Lucasfilm Ltd. © 2017 Lucasfilm Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

It also becomes about the individual rather than the needs of the group. When someone exists like that, it can be those that have spirit and are unafraid to be who they are, that those people want to eradicate; that they want to hurt.

So I’ve been lucky enough to be in Game of Thrones for a long time and I love the character of Brienne of Tarth whose got this incredible moral compass.

And it’s great to see an unconventional woman be the hero. Even for a moment that the opportunity to play the opposite of that where someone like Brienne of Tarth has the strength, and it’s in every essence, every fiber of her being- someone like Captain Phasma – it’s in every fiber of her being- the need for ambition; the need for revenge; the need to be ultimate; the need to destroy.

Photo Credit Louise Bishop / MomStart.com

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s behind-the-scenes post for the Global Press Conference.

Don’t forget to follow #TheLastJediEvent on social media. And be sure to stay connected to all things Star Wars: The Last Jedi below.

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STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI opens in theatres everywhere THIS Friday, December 15th! Have you purchased your tickets yet?


In case you missed these other #TheLastJediEvent posts:

I’M HEADED TO LA 12/2-12/4 FOR ALL THINGS STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI #THELASTJEDIEVENT

MAGICAL HOLIDAYS AT DISNEYLAND + STAR TOURS: THE ADVENTURE CONTINUES #THELASTJEDIEVENT

BEHIND-THE-SCENES AT THE STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI PRESS EVENT #THELASTJEDIEVENT

INSIDE STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI WITH LAURA DERN AKA VICE ADMIRAL HOLDO #THELASTJEDIEVENT

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