Despite all the rumours, leaked set pics, official images, character descriptions, trailers, merchandising and more, there’s still a lot we don’t know about Star Wars: The Force Awakens (this is a JJ Abrams movie, after all). And one of those unknowns is definitely Gwendoline Christie’s Captain Phasma, one of the villainous First Order’s military leaders.
For starters, we had already seen the “Chrome Trooper” in a trailer before we even knew that it was actually Christie we were looking at, due to the fact her character is decked out in head to toe silver androgynous armour. Christie is of course no stranger to the androgynous, having gained fame for playing Game of Thrones‘ Brienne of Tarth, a female knight constantly mocked for her towering manly statue and rough features (the latter of which couldn’t be further from the truth in real life, by the way), despite her very impressive martial prowess.
This unfortunately being the scummy world we live in, that sexist mocking has also followed Christie to the real world when her Force Awakens character was revealed. But as Christie, who also stars in the upcoming The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2, told Variety, Phasma’s non-gender specific appearance is actually quite liberating to her as an actress.
“It was exciting to me to have that weight of responsibility taken away, of having to be a certain way as a woman, to have to be mindful in a way that isn’t always useful. To have that stripped away was very liberating, and it meant that as an actor I had to focus on other things. I had to focus on what my body was communicating and what exactly my voice is communicating.”
“I don’t think many female actors get the opportunity to play a part where they’re not having to think about the way their face looks, but I found exactly the same thing with Brienne of Tarth, and that was very liberating. It was great as an actor to work on your skills — that it isn’t about holding your head so you look beautiful. It’s about what you’re transmitting, and to be in service of an idea greater than yourself, whether it’s the character’s overriding objective or, beyond that, hopefully something more sociopolitical. We have seen an image of [Phasma] and again, it’s an unconventional kind of woman exhibiting a kind of strength, but in a very different way to my other two characters.”
Star Wars of course is well known for having characters in full body armour in which you couldn’t actually see their faces, with Darth Vader obviously being the most famous example. With the original trilogy of movies though, creating Vader took a combination of actors with David Prowse inside the armour on set, while James Earl Jones provided the voice. With Phasma though, things were different as Christie states that “it was very important to J.J. that I was there acting a part.” And acting she definitely is doing, even though all you see is shiny chrome.
“It becomes about the way in which you hold your hand, the way in which you walk, where your weight lies and what you want that to mean, and I wanted to give the character identity. I thought it was interesting to make something about the character identifiably female in a non-superficial way, and I hope that comes across.”
Clearly though, for some
fans morons that type of acting isn’t enough as they want the character to conform to their idea of gender norms. Luckily though, the Official Star Wars Facebook page really has her back.
May the ZING! be with you! Naturally, Christie was a fan of that epic shutdown, but she gave her comment in a far more eloquent manner though:
“It was beautiful because it was informative, which is what we all need in order to tackle prejudice of any kind in our world … to be fed information,” Christie said of the measured response. “That’s just my opinion, that education combats fear, and fear leads to prejudice — so if we all become more educated, and if our mainstream media continues to expand and show a more realistic representation of women and of men… For instance, in ‘The Hunger Games,’ Katniss is an incredible woman, but Peeta also is a different kind of male hero. He’s a different kind of male character because he has a rich emotional world and he isn’t the brawny steadfast man that we have seen again and again.”
Star Wars: The Force Awakens is scheduled for release on December 18.
Last Updated: September 23, 2015