After years of treading the boards, Gwendoline Christie is about to burst onto the small screen in spectacular fashion. As Brienne of Tarth in HBO's hit 'Game Of Thrones', Miss Christie has landed her 'dream job'.
The whole of East London, let alone the fashion circuit and society dames, know about Gwendoline Christie – if only for the booming presence that precedes her. She is, to put great emphasis on the age old adage, heard before she is seen. The vivacious blonde’s presence is nothing but resounding. Fabulously so. Like a a vivacious songbird, only with the volume switched up to eleven. A blonde bombshell of course, yes, but Christie is more – that rare mix of utter unadulterated charm, a smart confidence, old school glamour, but also she is a lady of earnest grace. This duality that combines to create such a glorious and gregarious personality has ensured she is adored by all who meet her, most evident in the unwavering support from the myriad thespians, artists and designers whom all court her attention every day. Court the attention of this, our new found starlet.
And starlet she is, having landed herself the plum role of Brienne of Tarth in HBO’s phenomenally successful Game Of Thrones. With her debut scheduled for tonight’s episode, speculation on her performance is setting the GOT forums alight; quite rightly so. Gwendoline Christie is a noted actress – her initial training undertaken at Drama Centre London (a classical method school), she has gone on to perform with the Royal Shakespeare Company, received glowing reviews for her performance in Armando Iannucci’s opera Skin Deep and starred alongside Anna Friel in the West End production of Breakfast at Tiffany’s. There is also her small role in Terry Gilliam’s ‘The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus‘ for which she is probably most well known. It is this latest role, however, as Brienne that is set to take her career on a whole new trajectory.
I was ushered into a trailer to have my first hair and make up test. The ponytail came out and, rather smugly, I turned to the hairdresser and exclaimed ‘short, isn’t it?’. ‘No darling,’ he replied ‘it’s coming off!’
The blogosphere has been in a frenzy since it was confirmed Christie would indeed be taking the role, and in part, Christie feels it was important to acknowledge the support of the GOT forums; “I feel so totally overwhelmed by the support of the fans. They were behind me from the very beginning – before I was even a consideration. They somehow decided I was a good fit for the character and have really encouraged me throughout this incredible experience. I have pushed myself to the limits for this role. I have to; I’m endebted to them.”
The ‘limits’ are predominantly physical, but training for this role would test the fittest of actors. A gruelling three month ‘boot camp’ ensured that Christie became proficient in horseriding, swordfighting, physical combat and a rather accomplished stuntwoman (she insisted on performing all her own stunts). Weeks with a movement coach gradually altered Christie’s gait and posture, eliminating any glimpse of femininity, adopting an altogether more masculine demeanour. The transformation didn’t end there. By her own admission, the hardest sacrifice for the role was saying goobdbye to her infamous blonde locks. “I went to a nice little salon and had quite a bit cut off. I could just about manage to get it back into a ponytail and thought I’m probably be able to get away with it. I deliberately wore no make up throughout the training period thinking it would prepare people for my transformation into Brienne and distract slightly from the fact that my hair really should have been shorter. Then one day, I was ushered into a trailer to have my first hair and make up test. The ponytail came out and, rather smugly, I turned to the hairdresser and exclaimed ‘short, isn’t it?’. ‘No darling,’ he replied, ‘it’s coming off!’”
“I was rather displaced by the whole thing, but then, lets face it, I couldn’t be trotting round on horseback with my Carmens in, could I? On one level, the actress inside of me was ready to cut the whole thing an inch short – if the role requires it, then do it. However, there is always the little girl in me that was attached to the hair. I’m over that now, and to be honest, rather like my short new ‘do’.”
On a show that boasts as impressive a team as Game Of Thrones, these sacrifices have to be made, this is, after all, Chrisite’s ‘dream job’ (her words, not ours). Throughout our brief chat, talk continually turns to one thing – the amazing support of her fellow cast members and the entire HBO crew. “I was made to feel so welcome from day one. The other cast members were amazing to me and really helped me. It was such an intense family atmosphere – everyone knew we were doing something very special. I mean it was physically demanding and we were all on protein heavy diets – it really helped to be around other people that were all craving carbs too!!!”
While obviously excited about tonights debut, I push Christie for more on her role. A spoiler perhaps? “Sorry darling, you are just going to have to watch and see. There is a lot to come from Brienne, just keep tuned.”