Brienne is done waiting around in the snow. Game of Thrones actress Gwendoline Christie spoke with EW about her character’s storyline in the upcoming sixth season, and revealed Brienne of Tarth is going to have a more active arc this year.
“After season 5, people would come up on the street moaning about why wasn’t Brienne wasn’t doing more,” Christie says of her character, who spent the back half of last year patiently watching for a distress signal from Sansa (Sophie Turner). “I’d say, ‘I’m terribly sorry, I’m not really in charge of that.’ I got the scripts for season 6 and I thought the story was so fantastic. It’s really exciting to see Brienne burst forth again.”
Of course, more screen time on Thrones also typically means a character faces more dire peril. Up until now, Brienne’s ferocious combat skills have kept her alive despite being saddled with traits that usually prove quickly fatal in Westeros (you know, like being a decent person). This time, she won’t be able to rely just on her brawn to survive, an evolution that Christie embraces. “Brienne is so unique and unconventional and so strong, and I love the writing hasn’t allowed her to just rest there,” Christie says. “[Showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss] are so terrific about how they develop characters. We see her develop like the way a human being might through life.”
And once again, Brienne will be encountering characters she has never met before (speculate away). “So many characters for so long had their isolated storylines and as a fan of this show as well, I’ve been wanting and dreaming — ‘I wonder what it would be like to see this person interact with this other person?’ And that’s what starts to unfold.”
Last season’s relatively modest on-screen duties did have benefits, however, as Christie was able devote time to her coveted big-screen roles as Commander Lyme in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 and playing the chrome trooper Captain Phasma in Star Wars: The Force Awakens — with more to come in Episode VIII (Brienne may never earn a royal title, but Christie could be dubbed The Franchise Queen).
Yet for Christie, high-profile roles are not just about her own career — the actress says she felt like an unusual-looking outsider prior to joining Thrones and hopes her rise helps inspire Hollywood to create more diverse roles. “Women talk to me about how Brienne is important to them and they’re really happy it illustrates an unconventional side of femininity and womanhood compared to what we’re used to seeing,” she says. “There’s a shift in the kind of things people want to see in entertainment, and I hope this breeds in people’s minds and we see more different incarnations of women.”
And while she’s keeping busy with other roles, Christie says she has zero interest in exiting Thrones to work on movies — if she can help it. “I really am in a position now where I’m very lucky to do other things,” she says, “But I don’t ever want to stop playing this part.”
For more on Game of Thrones season 6, get the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly which goes behind the scenes in Northern Ireland and Spain, plus profiles six of the show’s female stars. EW has plenty of online Thrones overage planned, too — exclusive news, cast interviews, recaps, and more (without spoiling any of the significant twists to come). Follow @jameshibberd for ongoing GoT scoop, subscribe to our Thrones email newsletter, and bookmark this page for our latest GoT stories. Thrones returns to HBO on April 24.