Gwendoline Christie is known for being a badass. An actress too, yes, but a badass first.
Christie currently stars on HBO’s Game of Thrones as Brienne of Tarth, a non-conforming and androgynous warrior who is so strong and honorable that basically everyone wants her as their protector. And that’s not the only example of Christie appearing in a beloved fantasy series: Up next, she’ll star in both The Hunger Games and Star Wars.
In preparation for Comic-Con’s Women Who Kick Ass panel on Saturday (hosted by EW’s own Sara Vilkomerson), here are five reasons why Christie totally kicks ass.
1. She does all her own stunts on Game of Thrones.
Christie told Stylist she often comes away “with bruises and scratches” after doing her stunts, and trained in combat, sword fighting, and horse riding for the role. “I enjoy knocking around with the boys,” she said. “It’s empowering knowing that I can break a man’s nose with my elbow.”
2. Part of the reason she wanted to play Brienne was because she “didn’t think there had been a character like this in mainstream television.”
“We admire her for her action, rather than the way she looks,” Christie told the New York Times in June. “She says ‘I am no lady’ and demands to step outside of predetermined roles of what women should be and what women are, and I think it’s very important in a mainstream television show to see women presented in that way.”
3. She’s in three of pop culture’s biggest franchises: Game of Thrones, The Hunger Games, and Star Wars.
She’s playing Commander Lyme in November’s The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 2 (the final film in the series) and Captain Phasma in the next month’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens. “I feel very encouraged because I think my luck in being cast in these amazing projects indicates people are wanting to see a different side of women, to see women represented in a different way, and to see a celebration of the individual,” she told EW in April. “Perhaps we’re moving away from a homogenized view of society.”
4. When she wants a role, she really goes for it.
After seeing something online about her possibly playing Brienne, Christie read George R.R. Martin’s series and immediately wanted the part — so she told Twitter about it. “I’ve never really done anything like that before, but I felt so passionate about the part and started watching the series when it came on,” Christie told Access Hollywood. “It’s something I absolutely wanted to be a part of.”
5. The 6-foot-3 actress has worked hard to embrace her appearance.
Growing up, others weren’t always the most encouraging regarding her height. “When I was in drama school, they told me it would be incredibly tough when I left, and it was really was,” she told Style in April. “And I never really gave too much stock to what the realities were, because it seemed even to my infant mind that nothing interesting got done if you accepted the limitations other people put on you.”