comScore Gwendoline Christie On Gender Roles & Fighting Game of Thrones | The Mary Sue

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

Gender Bendery


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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Jill Pantozzi is a pop-culture journalist and host who writes about all things nerdy and beyond! She’s Editor in Chief of the geek girl culture site The Mary Sue (Abrams Media Network), and hosts her own blog “Has Boobs, Reads Comics” ( She co-hosts the Crazy Sexy Geeks podcast along with superhero historian Alan Kistler, contributed to a book of essays titled “Chicks Read Comics,” (Mad Norwegian Press) and had her first comic book story in the IDW anthology, “Womanthology.” In 2012, she was featured on National Geographic’s "Comic Store Heroes," a documentary on the lives of comic book fans and the following year she was one of many Batman fans profiled in the documentary, "Legends of the Knight."