In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter on Monday, Gwendoline Christie took a moment to reflect upon her time as Brienne of Tarth on HBO’s monumentally successful series, Game of Thrones.
Her character, a bold and noble warrior, first appears almost halfway through Season 2 of the show in an episode entitled, “What Is Dead May Never Die.” Since then, Brienne has won the hearts of fans everywhere.
In response to audiences’ reactions, Christie had this to say: “It’s been incredible. I’ve been so happy. I’ve never had such a response to work, and also, I couldn’t be more delighted that in the final season of Game of Thrones, I was given such good material to play. I have been very open about how I’ve loved this character from the beginning, and what she represents. She’s literally stepped out of the shadows and started exploring a different side of herself — who she is as a woman. It’s another dimension added to the writing. What’s so amazing about Game of Thrones is how they take characters and put them in the most unlikely situations. We’ve seen that done particularly acutely with this character this season. I couldn’t be more grateful.”
Attention: Spoilers ahead.
As Christie implies, Season 8 has been nothing if not eventful for her role. In the second episode, she is knighted by Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldu). The moment was as tender as it was significant, and this balance was not lost on Christie. “I couldn’t believe that something good was happening to my character,” she begins. “Something that she actually wanted! But on a larger scale, I was really delighted, because it felt like it was about a larger idea. It was about acceptance. Sometimes, there’s nothing more powerful than a good story.”
After valiantly facing the army of the dead in the Battle of Winterfell, Ser Brienne then trades in violence for romance. She and Jaime enjoy an impassioned, albeit brief, romance over the course of the season’s fourth episode. Although their chemistry has been hinted at throughout the series, romance was never a guarantee and their relationship had even Christie expressing some surprise.
“I really didn’t know if that would happen,” the actor confessed to The Hollywood Reporter. “I wasn’t necessarily hoping for it. What I’ve always loved about playing that relationship with Nikolaj is that it’s so unlikely. It’s so unlike the kinds of relationships we see in our mainstream entertainment. No one’s really known what kind of shape it would take. That’s what’s captivated people for so many years. From my perspective, although I’ve known what I was playing in a given scene, I haven’t had an overriding goal of wanting them to end up in bed together or in a relationship together. We never knew where it was going, so we always played it moment by moment.
“Of course, I had wondered where [the story between Brienne and Jaime] was going, and all sorts of other things. What was it Brienne wanted? Companionship? Did she want to be alone? To be with a man? A woman? What is it she wants in life? All I’ve known is I really loved the relationships she’s formed, particularly with Jaime Lannister. Playing it has been incredibly exciting, because I never know where we’re going to end up in a scene. I could be laughing uproariously with Nikolaj, or I can end up wanting to scream at him and claw his eyes out. It’s been so entertaining to play. I’ve been so lucky to play these scenes with such a brilliant, mercurial actor. It’s what made the scenes so good; they move around, and neither of us ever really knew where it was going to go.”
Of course, in classic Game of Thrones fashion, the affair does not last. In a tear-jerking conclusion, Jaime Lannister leaves Brienne for his sister, Queen Cersei. The audience witnesses the knight dissolve into tears as her friend turned lover rides off. “Those things do happen in life, and that’s what you get to work with,” said Christie when asked about the relationship’s quick and devastating end. “I thought it was phenomenal and typical of Game of Thrones that in a space of one episode, after seven years of building this relationship, it not only comes together but also falls apart. Those things do happen in life.”
The episode, which aired on Sunday night, leaves many doors wide open for Ser Brienne, and just as many questions unanswered.
But as Ser Brienne faces uncertainty in the world of Game of Thrones, actor Gwendoline Christie has much to look forward too. Given the series’ impending conclusion, Christie plans on reallocating her talents to a stage adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in London at the Bridge Theater. In the piece, she will play both Titania and Hippolyta.
Christie then took a moment to revel in what her future might hold. “I feel really buoyed by this experience to try some new things. I’m really delighted to come away from this with a little bit of confidence. That’s the most incredible gift of all: to feel some confidence and acceptance to go forward.”
As for Ser Brienne of Tarth, Christie hopes she will be the first in a long line of powerful, female roles. “I want to play all sorts of extraordinary women. I want to look into the darker recesses of human life and explore those, and explore what we’re not supposed to talk about and look at. I’m really excited to explore more unconventional characters.”
She then directed the conversation to her next project. “It’s thrilling to be getting back on stage again and to explore reality in a live space, with such a revered theater director in the form of Sir Nicholas Hytner. It’s exciting times. Mostly, I’m really looking forward to the projects I feel passionately about with auteurs and artists who really speak to my sensibilities. I want to create more content myself, and be more involved in a creative role. That’s what I’d really like, going forward.”
While Christie is evidently excited to invest herself in new roles and projects, her gratitude for Game of Thrones remained at the forefront of the conversation as the interview drew to an end. “Quite genuinely, I’m really grateful to have been employed over these past several years, and I’ll forever be grateful to Game of Thrones for giving me the opportunity and the platform. It means a great deal to me.”
As for life after Game of Thrones? Christie concluded the interview by saying, “I just hope I keep working.”