She is unique in nearly every way, and that has made Gwendoline Christie’s “Game of Thrones” character, Brienne of Tarth, stand out.
Her height, style of dress and natural fighting ability have surprised and shocked the folks across Westeros. And in Season 4, she’s beginning to make an impression on those in King’s Landing, most recently with Lady Olenna (Dame Diana Rigg), who called Brienne “marvelous,” in the type of way only an elderly person can get away with.
And while Brienne’s noble family and her association with Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) have helped give her some standing in King’s Landing, she is still very much an outsider. But, she is an outsider with a mission – to make Jaime keep his promise to keep Catelyn Stark (to keep the Stark daughters safe).
Access Hollywood spoke with Gwendoline about Brienne’s Season 4 premiere scenes, including her characters ongoing conversations with Jaime, her heart-to-heart with Margaery Tyrell and her stylish “GoT” costume.
AccessHollywood.com: In the Season 4 premiere, Brienne reminds Jaime of his promise to Catelyn Stark. How focused is she on making sure he lives up to that at that point?
Gwendoline Christie: It’s been such an extraordinary arc, it’s been such an incredible journey that they’ve gone on together, and they’ve both evolved so much as human beings that I think that she wants him to maintain that. I think she’s so impressed in the bathtub scene by how he — her perception of Jaime… undergoes such a 180-degree turn that she does want that to be maintained. Also, in light of Catelyn Stark’s death, they both now are united through the experience they’ve had in [Season] 3, but then, both now united in a sense – the mission now is to carry out the wishes of Catelyn Stark, which is to keep the daughters safe. And I think that Brienne is motivated by a dedication to the greater good. It’s a very pure, altruistic, moral sensibility, and so, I find it quite inspiring because in light of things not being evident in the material physical world, it’s still upholding honor.
Access: Do you think there is a little bit of her that maybe just wants to maintain the strong connection that she has with Jaime, because he really is the only person she has that knows her, by reminding him of what he’s supposed to do? It sort of reminds him to stay in her life.
Gwendoline: I can see your point, but I don’t think that that is conscious. It’s probably an element that’s subconscious, but it isn’t her spur. It’s not at the forefront of her mind and I think what’s delightful about that character is that she is so unaware of that side of things. She’s so unaware of what this relationship might mean and when she does allow her thoughts to wander, she’s embarrassed and she’s scared of it. She’s scared of it and scared of what it might mean because she’s uninitiated with that sort of experience.
Access: He’s really the only person that she has that she’s close to at all. In King’s Landing, he’s kind of the only one she has any ties with.
Gwendoline: And the experiences that they’ve had throughout show in [Season] 3 is almost clandestine. Only the two of them know about it and it’s never spoken about, but the bond is acted out.
Access: You had an awesome scene with Dame Diana Rigg (when Lady Olenna meets Brienne for the first time). Tell me about working with her. George R.R. Martin said he had a crush on her when he was a youngster.
Gwendoline: I’m not surprised. In Britain, I was watching television on a Sunday and they [seemed] to have almost a Diana Rigg day [where] they showed the Bond movie that she was in and they showed this really fabulous all-star cast Agatha Christie movie that she was also in, and being phenomenal in just a swimsuit and a couple of bangles, and she’s magnificent. She’s someone that’s been in my mindset, been part of our culture in Britain and globally. You never think that you’re going to get to work with an icon. You never think you’re going to have the pleasure of — on a work level — working with someone whose craft is so highly evolved.
Access: Does it up your game to work with someone like her? She just spits those lines out and they’re so, just--
Gwendoline: She’s not only had a wealth of experience, but she’s naturally, phenomenally talented, so that combination of experience, skill and sheer talent together, of course it informs you. What’s wonderful is that she’s so giving. It all sounds a bit cliche, but she is, she’s very generous and unaffected and just works with you. So when someone comes to you and meets you on a total level, it’s respectful and you just do what you can to do the best thing possible, but of course, there’s another part of me that screams, ‘I’m with Diana Rigg!’ But you put that bit on ice.
Access: Why does Brienne tells Margaery the truth about what happened with Renly? Why does she feel the need to unburden herself of that? Is it to clear the air because she is at King’s Landing? Is it to really tell her, ‘I had nothing to do with Renly’s death’? What do you think that’s all about?
Gwendoline: I think it’s much deeper than that. I think that Brienne is a very genuine character and it would weigh very heavily on her mind that there was — she knows few people there and one of the people that she does know there is a woman that, perhaps, would have a poor opinion of her, born of out of something — an event that she’s very confused about. Because we’re dealing with the supernatural, and the two other people that were there are dead, and the one person that was associated with it – Margaery – is there. To an extent it’s unburden, but it’s very important for it to be known how genuine she is in her affiliations and she is a woman of honor.
Access: And… is Brienne wearing culottes in that episode?
Gwendoline: (Laughs) It is. It’s a blue linen culotte jumpsuit, with a leather jerkin tossed over the top and the boots are maintained.
Access: When they brought this to you, what did you think of Brienne’s new outfit?
Gwendoline: [Costume designer] Michelle Clapton, who is obviously brilliant… I’m very lucky in that she entirely takes onboard my input. Honestly, none of it really anything to do with me, but we do work together a little bit, and it just felt that that was going to be, I think initially, it was going to be a dress and what’s wonderful about Michelle, is she is so intelligent when it comes to design, so she is conscious of never wanting to put Brienne in men’s clothes, that it’s a new form of female dress or it’s a form of female dress that conceptually straddles male and female. So that’s essentially what it’s about. It’s a fashion representation of the gender politics of the character.
“Game of Thrones” continues Sunday night at 9 PM ET/PT on HBO.
-- Jolie Lash