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Gender Bendery

Gwendoline Christie Discusses Gender Roles & Fighting For Game of Thrones’ Brienne

I could write a whole article on how amazingly awesome Brienne of Tarth is just from my own perspective but in this case I’ll leave it up to the actress who plays her on HBO’s Game of Thrones. Gwendoline Christie did an interview with TV Guide recently where she said some interesting things about gender roles in Westeros. 

“Brienne has seen this woman exhibiting strength in an intellectual manner with Renly, and also exhibiting strength of love and motherhood that I think she sees as equal to her own physical strength,” Christie said of the character Lady Catelyn Stark. “And perhaps it’s the first time we see Brienne consider something beyond the strength of the physical in a woman as a means to be equal to a man.”

Christie also mentions the respect and love Brienne has for Renly but also for Catelyn, even though she represents everything she never wanted to be, i.e a mother. “She’d rather die in what she sees as a noble death rather than potentially die a conventional one that she feels is without much merit for her,” she said. And then they asked her how cutting her hair short for the role affected her in real life and she gave a really great answer:

I struggled for a long time with my hair, but then I’m grateful for the opportunity to realize that femininity doesn’t have to come from hair or any of those traditional female archetypes of appearance, So, that’s been exciting actually. I can’t speak with any kind of authority whatsoever because I’m just an actor and I only have my opinions, but I do think it’s really refreshing to have a woman depicted on a mainstream TV show that doesn’t obey typical aesthetics of females and the way they have been portrayed in the past. And I’m really excited to be portraying one of those women. And I hope that her popularity signals a greater expansion of people’s views about men and women and that gender types can be more flexible.

Did they pick the perfect actress to play Brienne or what?

And then we have Christie’s experience wearing armor and sword fighting. Which, as it turns out, is just as tough as you’d imagine.

Nikolaj [Coster-Waldau] is actually absolutely brilliant at swordfighting. He has experience and is naturally brilliant at it. So he picks it up literally two hours in rehearsals, and I spend two weeks training every single day,” she said. “The production has done the absolute best that they can and take such great care of us, particularly me in that armor, to make sure it’s as painless as possible. But it’s tough because you can’t move fluidly. You’re moving around like a Tin Man and trying to inject any kind of modicrum of grace to it is almost impossible. But it’s exciting because it’s as it would have been in that situation.”

Well that’s all well and good but how do the two actors fair in a fight? Christie said, “Throughout filming it, Nicolaj was on his knees and was really mewling like an injured kitten, saying, ‘Please, please, just take 10 percent off.’ I was going really easy on him but I was in armor. He couldn’t take the strain.”

(via TV Guide)

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  • Life Lessons

    Love this woman – both character and actress. :)

  • Anonymous

    In BSG, Starbuck used to have a similar haircut but they eventually changed it because Katee Sackhoff couldn’t stand having her hair look that way. I understand her annoyance but I always thought that the real Starbuck would have prefered her hair short.

  • Mike Cassandra

    That is just too great. She does a fantastic job! Plus, I love the way she photobombs the billiards pic here:

    Totally adorable!

  • AnnaB

    Well, that’s it. I’m in love with her.

  • Betty Windsor

    I agree! I missed her short hair so much, but then again Starbuck on that show went in all sorts of crazy directions

  • Erica Slade

    does anyone else completely see her as wonder woman? like i LOVE Gwendoline Christie she is beautiful, the right height, she would be amazing.

  • Carmen Sandiego

    I thought it was somewhat appropriate when they began living on New Caprica and I like it when characters play with convention in either direction. Badass women can have long ringlets or a shaved head or a nice short mop and still be badass.

  • Shelley French

    Gwendoline Christie is amazing as Brienne of Tarth… I can’t quite get over it, nor the adorable relationship between her and the (once-hated-but-still-finding-it-difficult-to-like-due-to-him-pushing-Bran-out-of-the-window) Jaime Lannister… it makes for VERY engaging viewing.. and I never want it to end! I have a total girl crush on her! <3

  • Anonymous

    Love her! I don’t know what kind of career she can have, being so tall and knowing what the media do with women who are physically threatening (and literally belittling) to male leads, but I hope GoT will have a positive impact.
    The way she talks about Brienne also shows how much thought she put into the character’s psyche. Brienne’s journey reminds me of Eowyn’s in LOTR as in she was brought up with the idea that valor and honor and strength can only be found as a warrior so she’s willing to sacrifice everything to go down that road but ends us finding out that there are many ways you can be honorable and strong and valuable as a woman that don’t necessarily include meeting men on their field of choice.

  • Steve Corner

    None of us are “equal.” It’s ok. No big deal.