'The Force Awakens' star on why it's better that we never saw the chrome trooper's face
A friend and I were arguing about a deeply urgent divisive issue: Whether Captain Phasma never removing her helmet in The Force Awakens was cool or not. “You don’t hire somebody as talented as Gwendoline Christie for a Star Wars movie and then never show her face, it wastes her performance!” my friend fumed. While I countered: “An actor’s movements and voice are every bit as important as their face, and there’s something intriguing about not fully revealing a character, just like Darth Vader and Boba Fett, especially since Kylo Ren was whipping off his helmet left and right!”
So I asked somebody else to settle this: Gwendoline Christie. This is a bit like a real-life version of the famous scene in Annie Hall when Woody Allen fantasized about pulling out philosopher Marshall McLuhan to back him up in an argument.
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“I thought it was a really interesting opportunity because as an actor I’m interested in transformation and different kinds of roles,” Christie told EW. “What’s the role about? Who is the character? What does the character mean in the function of a project or story? I thought it was a really interesting opportunity to play a female character where we formed an opinion of her based on her actions rather than the way she has been made flesh. And that concept within a Star Wars movie, a mainstream phenomenon, was very modern and interesting and exciting. I made no secret of the fact I wanted to be in the film, I campaigned hard to be in the film, but to be in it as that kind of character — she’s a woman, she’s in armor, the armor isn’t sexualized, and in the film we don’t see the actor’s face — I thought that was an exciting, modern concept. And obviously, I’m delighted to be in another film [Episode VIII].”
Naturally, Christie is forbidden from talking about Phasma’s role in the next movie, which wil open Dec. 15, 2017. We also asked if she invented any backstory for her mysterious chrome First Order trooper — like the way Oscar Isaac (Poe Dameron) decided his character was from Yavin IV because it reminded him of his native Guatemala. Christie says she did, but doesn’t want to share that bit. “I went about preparing for that part the way I would for any role — to make some decisions about who the character is and why they do what they do. I think everybody would like to find out more about the character in the future.”