On 'Thrones,' landing 'Star Wars' and being a triple-franchise warrior

By James Hibberd
Updated April 19, 2015 at 12:00 PM EDT
Credit: Helen Sloan/HBO

[The following interview contains spoilers from the second Game of Thrones episode of season 5]:

Gwendoline Christie sits in a cafe in King’s Cross station in London, drinking tea and revealing her perspective on Brienne’s surprise encounter with Sansa Stark in Sunday’s Game of Thrones episode “The House of Black and White.” The actress has a tough time pulling off looking inconspicous, but she’s giving it try, wearing a ballcap and touristy sweatshirt while talking about tonight’s scene in a hushed whisper so nobody else can overhear any Thrones secrets.

“Brienne kneels before Sansa in an exact mimic of the oath she made to Catelyn Stark,” Christie says. “And Sansa says, ‘No.’ But in the script, it says there’s the tiniest look in Sansa’s eyes. The script says the look is telling Brienne: ‘Get the f–k out of Dodge.'”

So Sansa’s rejection of Brienne—unlike Arya’s dismissal of her last season—was probably at least partly out of concern for Brienne’s safety. “We can be romantic about it and say that, in that moment, maybe there’s a connection, some part Catelyn that’s within Sansa, that’s trying to help me, to urge me on,” Christie says. “And then there’s the horse chase, which we filmed over days. Really high-speed horse chase, through the forest, rearing the horses. Daniel Portman—Podrick —is a brilliant rider and had to fake being a terrible one.”

While Christie manages to go unnoticed in the cafe, you can bet next year she’s going to have a much tougher time staying under the public’s radar. In addition to her breakout role on Thrones, Christie will appear in the final Hunger Games movie, Mockingjay Part 2, and has a very mysterious role in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Below we chat some more with Christie about Thrones and her incredible triple-franchise success:

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How does this season compare to previous ones for Brienne?

Gwendoline Christie: Brienne’s still a badass. But she’s also a complex individual. I really applaud the writers for further creating the perspective of this character and allowing it to unfold and further unveil a female character we’ve never seen on television before. It was my favorite season so far. It’s definitely my favorite. You keep thinking, “How can it possibly top each time? How can it achieve more and be more climactic?”

How has life changed for you over the last year?

I go to the gym regularly. There’s at least the hope of regular work now, and that to me is a gift.

You’ve been cast in Hunger Games, Star Wars, Thrones—which project is the coolest for you?

This interview I’m doing now! … I’m a very lucky girl, aren’t I?

They’re pretty much three of the biggest pop culture franchises around at the moment. How did the Thrones cast react when they heard you were cast in The Force Awakens?

Finn Jones [who plays Ser Loras] rang me immediately and he was just screaming down the phone. He did a dance for me when I saw him. Everyone was really lovely and supportive. I can’t help but feel like the unlikeliest girl at school. I never thought I’d be in these amazing projects.

Who would win in a sword fight, Jaime Lannister or Luke Skywalker? They’ve both lost a hand…

Oh! I’m going to say Jaime—because Nikolaj [Coster-Waldau’s] morale needs boosting.

What else do you want to do beyond your current gigs?

Nothing! I’m done. Actually, it’s such a generic answer, but I’d like to do a wide range of roles, wildly different from the character of Brienne. I’d love to have a lead in a movie. I’d love to be involved in the creative process. I’d love to do some theater. I’d love to do a rom-com. I’d love to be in a noir-esque David Lynch film. I’d love to work with David Cronenberg.

Do you worry you’re being typecast as a warrior?

I think there’s much worse things to be cast as. There’s lots of other things I want to do, but it’s not something that concerns me. For some unfathomable reason I don’t feel like that’s the way things are going to continue to go. I have no justification for that. Maybe it’s just a lot of hope. Professionally, I’ve had a really incredible year.

Is there anything aside from your talent or luck that you attribute your run to?

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. Perhaps we’re moving away from a homogenized view of society. I hope there’s more interest in exploring the edges of society, or exploring those things that seem unusual. Maybe in doing that we’ll find they’re not so unusual after all.

EW will have more from this interview later in the season. In the meantime, check out the rest of our “The House of Black and White” deep-dive recap. We also have an interview with Jaqen H’ghar himself, actor Tom Wlaschiha.

In a related video, see “The House of Black and White” recapped via Tyrion’s Instagram feed:

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Game of Thrones

HBO's epic fantasy drama based on George R.R. Martin's novel series 'A Song of Ice and Fire.'

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