July 11, 2015 8:10 AM EDT

Gwendoline Christie is kind of a big deal. The 6-ft.-3-in. actor is not only skyrocketing to stardom—she’s redefining what it means to be a female action hero.

Best known for playing Brienne of Tarth on Game of Thrones, Christie is also set to star as a baddie in the upcoming Star Wars film. In both projects, she plays a tough, strong woman, which as Christie acknowledged on Friday night during panels for each of the projects at San Diego Comic-Con is still hard to come by in Hollywood.

During the Game of Thrones panel, she said that her role as Brienne was revolutionary because she was allowed to have a complicated relationship with a male character, Jaime Lannister, that was not based on sex.

“In a mainstream TV show, we got to see this very unique, very unconventional woman enduring abuse from a man, and then the power lay in the fact that that got turned on its head, to develop a grudging respect for each other that’s intense and close and doesn’t have its roots in sexuality,” she said. “And I was thrilled to see that at last, and I thought it was a very powerful, modern representation of women.”

She similarly applauded J.J. Abrams and Lawrence Kasden for not sexualizing her storm trooper character in Star Wars. “I found it exciting that there was a female storm trooper, but it was also this opportunity to explore a female character that’s totally not about the way she looks.” she said, referring to the fact that her character is hidden beneath armor. “I just thought it was exciting that underneath that armor was a woman.”

Both of Christie’s comments were met by thunderous applause. Later in the evening, a fan asking a question of the Star Wars panel called her a “goddess.”

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Write to Eliana Dockterman at eliana.dockterman@time.com.

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