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Gwendoline Christie on Why Her Star Wars Costume Is a ‘Step Forward’ for Women

3 minute read

Gwendoline Christie has made a career of playing strong women: Brienne of Tarth on Game of Thrones, Commander Lyme in The Hunger Games series and, now, Captain Phasma in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The character is the first female villain in the mega-franchise, something the actress is quite proud of. Consequently, Christie says her latest role is a huge step forward for feminism in the movies. Here, she talks about why the costume she wears has a particular significance:

“What I found interesting about the character was when they showed me the costume, obviously it looks incredible, and I got excited by that. But it is rare that women get to play a character and below the neck they are really covered up to the extent that you cannot really see the flesh outlines of their body. This excited me for two reasons. It excited me because I realized that every gesture I made would have to indicate something, would have to say something about the character. So the way I stood, the way that I gestured with my arm, where I put the weight in my hips that would all say something about the character. Because [producer] Kathleen Kennedy said to me, ‘Have you ever Googled female heroines?’ And I said I hadn’t, and she did the Google search and showed me. There were a lot of very conventional images of women in fairly revealing outfits, or at least outfits that showed the outlines of their body. And it felt to me that there was a character where we should respond to her due to her actions and what she represented rather than a more conventional delineated flesh outline. And that felt like a step forward in terms of the kind of characters women play in films in our entertainment industry. It felt really progressive to me. And consequently I’m very proud to play this part because yeah, you look at her and she looks badass. But also it means something much deeper and it represents something of proper progressive thought, and it’s in a package that we all love. That’s why I’m so over the moon to be part of this wonderful thing because it’s actually doing something positive and progressive.”

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