When it comes time to battle the Night King, Brienne of Tarth will be right in the thick of things this season. In a new interview with Entertainment Weekly, Gwendoline Christie revealed that Brienne’s Game of Thrones Season 8 role is bigger than ever before.
GAME OF THRONES Season 8 premieres same time as the U.S. this April 15, Monday at 9am, with a same day encore at 10pm, exclusively on HBO (Astro Ch 411 / 431 HD). The series will also be available on HBO On Demand (via Astro Go). New episodes will premiere every Monday at the same time.
Q. How does the final season of Game of Thrones begin for your character?
GC:She’s at Winterfell, with Podrick. She is extremely protective of Sansa and maintaining Sansa’s position. She’s heard of Daenerys but doesn’t have any experience of her, but her oath is sworn to protect the Stark girls, so that is where her attention lays.
Q. What’s her perspective on the coming battle with the Army of the Undead?
GC:I think that she is rightfully taking on board the possibility that she may die in that. Brienne has always been in service of a greater good and I think that she sees this as the zenith of her life. This is everything that she’s strived for. Although she’s always had this altruistic sense of fighting for what is good, that she is happy to sacrifice herself in service of others, there creeps in now a humanity actually, which is fear.
Q. How did you feel the last time you took off the armour and said goodbye to the character?
GC:I’m very attached to this character: she has meant a great deal to me in my life, not just in terms of my work but personally too, in terms of stripping away all of the vanities which we all hang about ourselves. It’s given me a lot of confidence to accept who I am and to accept things that we have no control over, that form who we are as human beings. Society has started to change. With the rise of the internet, people are saying, “This is my voice and I want to see myself represented in entertainment.” There’s nothing as powerful as a good story, and people want to be able to see something of themselves reflected in order to feel grounded in their existence. So I’ve been preparing for the end for a while. Of course on the last day, I told myself in the morning I’d be fine… I wasn’t. I cried for two hours until everyone was rolling their eyes because there I was changing out of costume and removing makeup and hair things… and still crying. People were saying, “Yes, she’s still going. Nope, hasn’t stopped. Still going.” I thought it was important to vent that grief but what did really strike me is this part has revolutionised the way in which I see myself and see the way things can be in the world. It has really made me explore the idea of story and the idea of women in society. That is something that will never leave me. That’s something that will continue growing.
Q. Looking back, was there a moment where you realised the show had gone from very popular to something bigger than that?
GC:Yes, series three. I knew the books and the third book is sensational. It’s a fascinating, gripping, exciting, action-filled book and structurally it’s really surprising as well. The scripts were so good for that season: I remember thinking, “I think this might be the one that tips us over into being more popular.” I didn’t expect there to be the kind of explosion that took place.
Then you assume, because everyone tells you, that TV shows always become successful and then they plateau and then they fall away. This just got bigger and bigger and bigger with every year, until I realised that it was in every aspect of my life and that my public life had changed drastically. That was entirely beyond my control but at the same time you know that you’re a part of something extraordinary. As surprising as it may be, you know how lucky you are and it’s just a question of how to navigate that.
Q. What have you taken from Game of Thrones in terms of practical skills?
GC:It’s been an incredibly physically demanding role, and beyond the realms of anything I could ever have conceived. Interestingly, I thought that I would I retire in a way I would normally physically retire. But I cannot let it go and I’ve actually incorporated boxing in to my routine. I work with a trainer five times a week and I’m now exploring other kinds of physical disciplines. Martial arts I think might be the next step; we’ve been talking about that. Basically, having gone through an eye-bleedingly hard amount of work to get up to speed with the physical stuff, now I want to explore more. What it’s taught me is that the body is such an incredible tool. Whilst I really want my intellect to be tested, what this job has given me is an insatiable thirst for challenge. I love pushing myself beyond my small limits!
Q. When you think back across the seasons, what were the funniest moments?
GC:You see I’m quite boring because I’m quite serious on set. But that’s because I had an incredibly strict training at Drama Centre London when it was very old school. You were there to work. Around that, the cast are truly hilarious. I have absolutely just been in gut-twisting convulsions of laughter with a lot of them. Working with Nikolaj [Coster-Waldau] has been frankly insane, but also people like Liam Cunningham just truly make me cry with laughter. Kit Harington: unfortunately we have to add his humour to his endless list of attributes. Alfie Allen is hilarious, really, just really hysterical. Them and all of the crew have kept me laughing through some quite hard conditions in the set. I’ll never forget them.
– Gwendoline Christie was born in Worthing, West Sussex, England and trained in dance and gymnastics as a child. She graduated from Drama Centre London with a First Class BA (Hons) in 2005 and her first job was with Declan Donellan in ‘Great Expectations’ at the Royal Shakespeare Company that autumn.