Gwendoline Christie (born 28 October 1978) is an English actress and model. She is known for portraying the warrior Brienne of Tarth in the HBO fantasy-drama series Game of Thrones, and voicing Lexi in the science fantasy series Wizards vs Aliens. In film, Christie started with minor roles in the Terry Gilliam films The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus and The Zero Theorem, played Commander Lyme in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2, and will appear as Captain Phasma in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Christie was born in Worthing, West Sussex, and grew up in a hamlet near the South Downs. She trained as a gymnast as a child, but after a spine injury forced her to abandon that career, she took up acting. Christie graduated from Drama Centre London in 2005.
In 2015, it was reported that Christie is dating fashion designer Giles Deacon.
Christie's mentor since drama school has been actor and author Simon Callow. Her theatrical career includes a performance as the Queen in Shakespeare's Cymbeline, portraying Mag Wildwood in Breakfast at Tiffany's, and "standing out" as Lucifer in Marlowe's Doctor Faustus (2010). On screen, Christie played supporting roles in Terry Gilliam's 2009 and 2013 films The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus and The Zero Theorem, the BBC television production Seven Ages of Britain, and the 2012 television series Wizards vs Aliens, among others.
Christie's striking height, 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m), attracted the attention of photographer Polly Borland, who made Christie the subject of a noted series of photographs, entitled Bunny, between 2002 and 2008. According to Christie, she felt then that the photographs—in which she appears mostly nude—could help her come to terms with her body, and challenge notions of femininity. However, she later said that she was shocked in retrospect that she had agreed to them.
In July 2011, Christie was cast as the warrior Brienne of Tarth in the second season of HBO's fantasy TV series Game of Thrones. Her character – an unusually tall, muscular, and plain-looking woman – is a favourite among many readers of the novels, and Christie had been proposed for the role by fans long before auditions took place.
Christie said that she could draw on her own experiences of having been bullied for her height and androgynous looks to play the part of Brienne, a role that she was passionate to obtain after reading the A Song of Ice and Fire novels which the show adapts. To prepare even for the auditions, she started wearing unisex clothing to help her get into her character's more masculine mindset, and took up an intensive training regime, gaining over a stone (6.4 kg, 14 lb) of muscle mass. According to series co-writer, producer, and author of the novels, George R.R. Martin, she obtained the role practically without debate after an arresting audition at which she appeared already made up and costumed as Brienne. After being cast in the role, she prepared for it by taking horsemanship, sword-fighting, and stagefighting lessons.
Her debut in the second season's third episode on 15 April 2012 was well received by critics. Nina Shen Rastogi praised her "eloquent and economical physical performance", noting that her walk, stance, and mien effectively conveyed Brienne's single-minded devotion to her self-given quest to become a knight and to her king Renly. For her role as Brienne, Christie was nominated for the 2013 Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress.
Christie played Commander Lyme in the final film in the The Hunger Games series, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2. Actress Lily Rabe had signed on for the part previously, but had to back out due to scheduling conflicts. Christie has joined the cast of Star Wars: The Force Awakens in June 2014 as Captain Phasma, one of the film's main antagonists. In June 2015, Christie joined the cast of Swallows and Amazons as Mrs. Blackett.