Published on March 3rd, 2015 | by admin
GWENDOLINE CHRISTIE (Brienne of Tarth from Game of Thrones)
Tell us about filming season four of Game of Thrones?
It’s been really extraordinary. I absolutely loved filming season three. It was some of the juiciest material I’d ever had to work with. I was just so excited by it. In season two I said, ‘Please, please let us get to season three,’ so that we could possibly get to do all those amazing things: bear fighting, sword fighting, that amazing monologue that takes place. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau was so brilliant, and working closely with someone who’s just so good, and so skilled, and very willing to work with you, as well. It was an enormous pleasure. And I don’t think – certainly not in terms of any film acting – I’d ever had that opportunity before, so it was a whole education.
Do you enjoy the physical side of the role?
Yes. But I also love the depth of character and the depth of complexity that’s taking place in each moment. One of the reasons why I love the programme so much is, as everybody says, no-one is truly good or bad, it seems. Or at least you have to question their motivations; you can’t just delineate people with ease. You have to really think about each person’s actions and decision-making. There’s a great deal of depth in those characters that doesn’t come along so frequently on successful television programs.
Do you think Brienne is more clear-cut than some other characters? She has a clear sense of right and wrong…
Yes. I don’t think I’ve ever played a character before that’s had such an incredible sense of moral good, and it’s actually, as a code, very simplistic. But it works and it’s truly good that she’s dedicated her life to it. What’s been so interesting to me, is that there’s a character, within that, that’s uncovering what it is to be a woman, and what femininity really is, and that in order to be a woman of strength and to be an unconventional woman, you do not have to be hung with traditional male attributes, and you don’t have to assume them. She comes across a woman like Catelyn Stark, and discovers that there’s a woman that’s strong in a different way. It feels to me like the doors to Brienne’s mind are being opened. She is not naturally a retrospective character, because she dedicates her life to action, but the action is causing her to be retrospective, about what she thinks, who she believes is good, and who she believes is bad. Obviously through the relationship with Jaime Lannister, we discover two people who seem to be so opposing, but ultimately are very similar, and develop absolute respect for each other. That’s quite beautiful, and what I love about that relationship is that in season three, it is not sexual. It’s about something else, which is a mutual respect and a kind of love that is outside the forms we know – we don’t even know if it’s love. It’s a form of love. It’s sort of like a family connection. It’s very strong.
Where did we leave Brienne at the end of three?
At the end of three, we’re at King’s Landing, and there they enter, and Brienne sees how Jaime is walking into his own land, his own kingdom. Nobody recognises him, because he looks a mess, and she feels that pain. More than that, she feels his humiliation and how estranged he is in that moment, and the real pain of that, and I think that possibly you can say that she recognises it in her own feelings of being estranged from womankind, or from society. These two people are suddenly very similar, and can understand the same things about each other. I absolutely adored that. I adored that the seemingly good looking, arrogant, popular rich man and the ugly outsider woman can find more in common than they ever thought before.
Have you had the chance to discuss your character with George R.R. Martin?
Yes. I spoke to George R.R. Martin about this, and he said that it was always his intention with Jaime and Brienne to take the classic Beauty and the Beast story, and turn it on its head. Brienne is not ‘unconventionally attractive’, she’s ugly, and she’s ugly to society. She is the beast. What’s brilliant about George is that he’s very interested in exploring female psychology, and how society relates to women. He does it in a really deft way, but without commenting and without being patronising. It’s a very balanced viewpoint.
Where does season four take Brienne?
So season four, the two of them are at King’s Landing, and they’ve cleaned up, they’ve got different clothes on. What we see is Jaime is going back to being the person he was before. Brienne is a guest there, and still somewhat of an outsider. Brienne feels she has to remind Jamie Lannister of his oath to Catelyn Stark. She has to remind him of the man he has become. He isn’t just someone that was a tramp without hope and one hand, and he isn’t now an affluent attractive man who was honoured with one gold hand, instead of two flesh ones. She has to remind him of who he has become, and to prevent him from sinking back into the person he was before. It doesn’t seem that he will actually take that step psychologically – it will somehow be too much, and that Brienne’s efforts are wasted. And, of course, why would anyone listen to her, as a woman, and the type of woman that she is? But he takes up the mantle. He steps up to the mark. She has to remind him of it, but there is such a wealth of experience between them, that he has to honour it. I don’t think he does want to go back, either. I think when people have those sort of life changing extraordinary revelations, one cannot go back. We can try to just become the people we were before, but we are changed forever. It’s like a total remoulding of one’s psychological profile. There is this incredibly beautiful moment, in the script and in the books, where Jaime Lannister reveals that he is going to honour his promise, but, and the beauty is in this, that it won’t be him returning the Stark girls to safety. He hands it to Brienne. It’s beautiful because we see a man who doesn’t see that as an act of emasculation. It is a man who gives a woman, who’s dedicated her life to having a purpose, a purpose. It also says, ‘I recognise what you believe in, and I will do what I can to enforce it and to uphold it.’ Making a commitment to someone and honouring it, is one of the most devastatingly beautiful things in our human existence, and he facilitates it. He gives her a suit of armour that’s been made specifically for her, which, in a world of conventional women, I suppose is jewellery, or a gown. Those are the traditional mantles that women wear. For me, the idea of the armour is so gorgeously symbolic, because it protects her, it reinforces her and her choice to be a warrior. The armour has been designed so beautifully, It is neither female nor masculine. It is not putting on, as before, different combinations of male armour. I felt the idea that Brienne was hanging herself with male attributes, literally with them dangling off her. Now, this is armour that is made to fit, to make her the warrior that she deserves to become.
So Breanne has to say goodbye to Jaime?
He gives her the sword that his father has given him! It’s amazing. On a very basic symbolic level, it’s the handing over of the sword, a traditional symbol of masculinity, to a woman, and saying go forth and carry on your mission. Those things no longer become male accoutrements; they become symbols and tools to carry out an oath, and to me that is so beautiful. And he’s around her all the time, the armour is with her all the time, but again it isn’t sexual, and I think that’s so beautiful.
Do you think there is any element of romance between the two of them?
Whether there is further emotion from either of them depends on the edit of series four, because quite genuinely I can’t tell you how that will be shown, or if it will be shown: we both explored it, in terms of takes and acting, not deliberately, but a different range of emotion would be shown. That story is in the hands of the gods.
You worked with Daniel Portman this season. Tell us about that on screen relationship.
Yes, she’s given a page and she says, ‘I’ve never had a page before, I don’t need a page.’ She is given Podrick, whose duties have really only been serving wine. She is a woman that has strived to attain the skills of an incredibly accomplished warrior, and she’s been given a boy that’s got drunk and, so she thinks, eaten food, lounged around and been company. At first he seems entirely useless. Before, she was saddled with a man who antagonised her, and she had to carry, and now she’s saddled with a man who she thinks is useless, and she has to carry, and so she’s tormented from both angles.
Have the Starks already left King’s Landing when Brienne arrives?
Yeah. That’s why she has to go on a mission. That’s what her road trip is about. Daniel Portman, Pod, reveals that he killed a King’s Guard once to save Tyrion, his master. Her mind is pricked that this boy may have more to him than initially thought. This is another piece for me in terms of unpeeling Brienne’s quite dogmatic attitude towards people, about things being black and white. It was the same with Jaime Lannister. Suddenly we start to see a mind-set that is embracing and understanding complexity, and perhaps therefore attaining a better understanding of the world around her. That person you see initially is quite naïve, and now she is developing a process of sifting through the information that she’s given and making judgements that aren’t just based on fact, that are based on the possibilities that life can come up with. It’s really sensational. She’s looking for Sansa, and she thinks, ‘Well, she’ll be with her auntie, that’s where she would go.’ You see her trying to make the decision. She’s close to the Eyrie, and when she’s there, she wakes up and the horses have gone, because Pod hasn’t hobbled them properly – he gets everything wrong. She’s incredibly frustrated with him, and Daniel Portman is very funny. She is looking for the horses, and she stumbles into a little girl who is playing with a sword, and looks like a boy. She sees, in that moment, something that she recognises in herself that she’s never come across before. Brienne has always been a woman warrior, even when she was a girl, and then we see there’s something that actually touches her heart. You see another part of that personality open up – maternal, perhaps. We see a side of Brienne that we haven’t seen before that is communicating with another woman, a different kind of woman. We’ve only seen her communicating with Catelyn Stark.
Was this season as physically demanding as season three? I’m thinking of horse riding, sword fighting. It was pretty full on…
(laughs) Yes, it was. And this season culminates in me performing the biggest and most challenging fight that I’ve ever had in my life. It was absolutely insane. They trained me for it for two months. It’s against someone else in the story that you do not expect, and you think she might die. That’s episode ten. We filmed that, and both of us got properly beaten, punched – like beaten up.
Was it fun?
(laughs) Oh absolutely – it was huge challenge but incredibly fulfilling and fun, too. I’d tell you more about it but I don’t want to spoil anything for the audience. But all that training and hard work paid off because it’s spectacular. And when you think of spectacular in Game of Thrones terms, you know that it really is!