Skip to Content

Gwendoline Christie Discusses Her Role As Captain Phasma in Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Thank you to Disney and Lucasfilm for hosting me during the #TheLastJediEvent.

When I was finally home from Los Angeles, I told my bestie about the trip over the course of several phone calls. At one point he asked me if delightful was my new favorite word. Why? Because apparently I described everyone and everything during #TheLastJediEvent as delightful. Well, sometimes words just fit. By the way, Gwendoline Christie was absolutely delightful. But you can read that for yourself…

What can she tell us about Captain Phasma in The Last Jedi?

In the first film, Phasma is- she’s an enigma, isn’t she? She’s a mystery. She turns up out of nowhere. She has this very confrontational, threatening presence, and that’s sort of compounded or emphasized by what she’s wearing- by this suit of armor which is entirely practical… I think there’s something about those characters that are masked, that we want to see what’s behind the mask. What I loved about it is that in the world that we live in, we are met with a deluge of information all of the time, and the idea of having that moment- the sort of suspension of disbelief- where you have the space and are forced to wonder who is this, and who are they, I was very attracted by that. So we do see more Phasma in the film, and what we see is her resilience, her need to fulfill an overriding sense of revenge, and we see something that we don’t commonly see in female characters which is that we see this- and it manifests itself in different ways- this violence that comes from deep within her. And, and that’s something I find interesting about this character is that women are not conventionally supposed to have a violence that comes from deep within.

What is it like to put on the Captain Phasma armor?

I was actually lucky enough to be given couture suit, so the armor was made to fit my dimensions exactly. In the first film, no one was quite sure about this character. They have this character, and they loved it, and then they made a series of decisions where, I believe, I think initially they thought that possibly the character could be male. And then the decision was made that it would be more interesting for the character to be female. And I just loved that we maintained the practicality of what she was wearing. Everything you’re given as an actor informs you, and working with all these different people- it’s not just you. It’s all these different people and what they think about the character, and how they’ve executed that creatively, informs you who that person is. So, of course, you put this armor on, and you feel rigid and uncompromising. As an actor, you have the challenge of just how to move. Just walking becomes a challenge. But you realize that that person is exerting a great deal of force just to move, and that force is coming from within. This is something they’ve elected to do, is to dress this way. And the idea of the senses being shut down, sometimes entirely, that’s an interesting choice to make as a person, in this case, as a female, to elect to have all of your senses shut down- to exist entirely practically. So I was really fascinated by that. There’s a certain amount of strength and flexibility one needs… With someone like Captain Phasma, she has a degree of strength that has to exist muscularly, so she is a strong person, physically. And you know, we worked on a lot of that for the film.

Gwendoline Christie discusses what drives Captain Phasma-and what it's like to put on that costume in Star Wars: The Last Jedi!

© 2017 Lucasfilm Ltd.

Has she read the Phasma novel yet?

I’m reading it at the moment. I’ve been very lucky to be really busy, and so I will tell you that on my breaks from Game of Thrones on set, I’m reading the book. And I’m reading it off my phone because otherwise people are gonna ask me constantly about what is happening. But it’s brilliant. It’s genuinely so good in that it just explains so much about the character. Rian and I sat down at the very beginning- I felt very privileged that the director wanted to sit down with me and say, “What do you think?” the way he did with everyone in the cast. You formulate your own ideas about what is the character motivation, and as an actor, you have to have those motivations in order to be a human, otherwise it’s just a series of facts and nobody feels any connection to that. I’m really excited to be reading it at the moment, and it’s just framed so interestingly and the depth of imagination- I’m very excited that we have similar ideas. But Delilah Dawson? I think she’s brilliant.

How did she train for the roles of Captain Phasma?

Something really wonderful happened, which was that I was reunited with the brilliant stunt director/stuntman, C.C. Smiff. C.C. Smiff taught me to fight on Game of Thrones at the start of season two when I was first starting the show. It was C.C. that taught me to fight- to swordfight, was with me in all of those scenes when there was fighting, and sometimes when there wasn’t, because I was concerned about executing the physicality of that character. Because it was always important to me that Brienne of Tarth is a woman. She isn’t a woman acting like a man, she is a woman. But she has a different strength, and a different configuration to Gwendoline. And I wanted that to be as resolved as possible. I remember thinking about even when I heard the possibility of auditioning for that role-and I read it, and I was so delighted that at last- I remember thinking surely this can’t be real? And I thought, well, you know what? It doesn’t matter if this Game of Thrones program, which had just shown the first three episodes in the UK, it doesn’t matter if it’s not successful because there’s a part that is outside of what we’re used to seeing in society in our entertainment. That’s what delighted me, and so I was very dedicated with C.C., and C.C. was the person that set me on the path to training as a part of my life. And sometimes less. When I have a break. I love it to be less, but he’s the person that made me enjoy it; that gave me the spirit to say, “I’m gonna commit to this fully.” So to be reunited on a Star Wars film, and to do something incredibly difficult,  exceptionally difficult, and for him to push me to go further, and for him to be there. He’s the person that helped to give me the courage in the first place, to say you can do more than you ever thought, physically, and to do it with a great deal of humor, and charm, and humanity. And he’s a man always without ego, as well. What an amazing teacher… He’s also so brilliant about how he puts things together, and how they evolve about pushing you further in terms of your strength. But also recognizing, which I think is the most important thing- how to keep you safe, and when to keep you safe because I’m lucky enough to have never broken or bone, and I would like to keep it that way.

Gwendoline Christie discusses what drives Captain Phasma-and what it's like to put on that costume in Star Wars: The Last Jedi!

©2017 Lucasfilm Ltd.

How did she mentally prepare for the role?

She’s a person. And you think about why people behave the way that they do. Often, people that behave in a malevolent way, it’s because at the base of it- they’re fearful, and the fear overtakes them and it can manifest itself in a total loss of empathy. And that total loss of empathy causes the person to only think about themselves and their own needs, and their own brain space becomes about their receives, how they feel attacked, and how they’re going to fight back. And it also becomes about the individual rather than the needs of the group. When someone exists like that, it can be those that are at liberty, and those that have spirit and are unafraid to be who they are, that those people want to eradicate; that they want to hurt. I’ve been lucky enough to be in Game of Thrones for a long time, well, for me, it’s a long time; with my short career, it’s a long time. I love the character of Brienne of Tarth, whose got this incredible moral compass. And it’s great to see an unconventional woman be the hero, even for a moment- and it is fleeting- even for a moment that opportunity to play the opposite of that. Where someone like Brienne of Tarth has the strength, and it comes in every essence, every fiber of her being. Someone like Captain Phasma, it’s in every fiber of her being. The need for ambition; the need for revenge; the need to be ultimate; the need to destroy. A woman as a destructive force when women are seen as mother, whatever that means, which is a multidimensional thing, I truly believe. That inverted; the opposite of that fascinated me, and I felt like the opportunities were limitless.

If she had a lightsaber in real life, what color would it be?

I think it would be pink because of what that represents. It’s a pink ribbon that represents wanting to stand with the further research into breast cancer. The idea of pink and the pink pound with the gay community, which is a community I’ve always had a strong relationship with. And also because it’s kind of a double-edged sword. When something’s pink, you think it’s soft and fluffy, and then, whoop, I just cut your head off.

There’s plenty of #TheLastJediEvent coverage still to come, so make sure you follow along!

In Lucasfilm’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the Skywalker saga continues as the heroes of The Force Awakens join the galactic legends in an epic adventure that unlocks age-old mysteries of the Force and shocking revelations of the past. Star Wars: The Last Jedi opens in U.S. theaters on December 15, 2017

Click the photo below to save to Pinterest.

Gwendoline Christie discusses what drives Captain Phasma-and what it's like to put on that costume in Star Wars: The Last Jedi!

As The Bunny Hops®